Harlem residents are ready to “Shine the Light” on domestic violence.
Community members, domestic abuse advocates and elected officials decked out in purple will stage a simultaneous walk from four different points in Harlem on Monday, gathering at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building Plaza on West 125th Street for a rally in support of survivors. The event is being organized by the Upper Manhattan Domestic Violence Services Collaborative.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and event organizer Maribel Martinez-Gunter said it was important to draw attention to the issue in a community where domestic violence incident reports are “extraordinarily high.”
“There is a general consensus in New York City that the highest neighborhoods where domestic abuse incident reports happen are in upper Manhattan,” said Martinez-Gunter, who is the director of the family and immigration unit with Manhattan Legal Services.
From April to June, police responded to 886 domestic violence incident reports in the 32nd Precinct, which covers Central Harlem, according to NYPD statistics. The precinct had the highest number of calls for that time period in the entire borough.
But those numbers don’t account for people who don’t call police. “Many people don’t call police,” Martinez-Gunter added.
The Shine the Light event, which is part of a campaign by the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, used to take place in Times Square, but moved to Harlem four years ago. Martinez-Gunter said they wanted to bring the event to “the heart of our community.”
“Times Square is only connected with tourists,” she added.
When organizers decided to bring the event to Harlem, they struggled with whether to keep the mood somber, but ultimately decided to make it a celebration of survivors and a show of solidarity, drawing inspiration from the community’s rich cultural vibe, Martinez-Gunter said.
"Harlem is rich with culture and music and dance and we tried to bring all those elements in because that’s how the community identifies itself,” she added. “Our main goal is to let people know, ‘we see you, you’re not walking by invisible to us. We’re here to help.’”
The march begins at 5:30 p.m. at four separate points listed below.
125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue
135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard (Lenox Ave)
125th Street and Fifth Avenue
116th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard (Eighth Ave)