Anti-violence rally highlights socioeconomic struggles in the south side of Jersey City

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An anti-violence rally led by members of Students Demand Action Hudson County called for an end to gang violence in Jersey City, with many speakers noting the socioeconomic struggles in the south side of the city. 

“I’m not a survivor, I was just a witness to gun violence that happens not only in Newport mall, but on the south side of our city every single day,” said Jai Patel, an organizer for SDAHC.

“… It took this city, and all the news people here today, it took a shooting in Downtown Jersey City for you to be here today.”

Hoboken Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour, who also founded the Hudson County chapter of Moms Demand Action, added that “we are failing our children” by not pushing for and passing common sense gun laws across the country.

The Newport Centre mall shooting on Friday evening, where two people where injured and two arrested, drew coverage from over a media outlets, most of which who typically cover the New York market.

The rally came in light of of that unexpected act of violence, which was said to be triggered by a daytime shooting incident on Grant Avenue days earlier.

While the mall incident sent shockwaves throughout the city, speaker after speaker indicated that while gun control and legislation, both on the federal and local levels, are important, they are not going to be particularly effective in Jersey City.

“When those students of color lost their lives, we didn’t have any of these rallies. No one came out and organized. No one came out and said ‘listen, we have to end this problem. Listen, how do we tackle gun violence,'” exclaimed Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Mussab Ali.

“But today we’re here, we’re rallying together, because of a shooting in Newport mall. And shame on us for not coming out there when every single one of those shootings was assigned.”

Ali’s remarks came after holding a moment of silence for Angel Cruz, Jaden Fondeur, Jane Saunders and Judane Holmes, four Jersey City high schoolers who died from gun violence in recent months.

His colleague, Jersey City BOE President Sudhan Thomas, while noting socioeconomic problems, called on President Donald Trump to take action in Washington D.C.

“Stop worrying about the wall in down right Mexico: look to see how you can stop these guns from coming in the states,” he said.

Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson was yet another speaker who really drove home the point about the south side of the city being in dire need of help.

“Gun reform is great … the bottom line is what’s happening on the south side has nothing to do with that. The bottom line is we’re not addressing the societal and socioeconomic issues on the south side – poverty, disparity,” she said.

“We’re not addressing that and building strong families and making sure we’re looking after one another.”

In closing, Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon said he was making in a top priority to make his constituents part of the conversation even though gun violence does not typically impact his ward, while Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson asked everyone – including Gov. Phil Murphy (D) – to take a visit to the south side of the city.

“This is something that we as a community need to come together to change: we can do it together,” Robinson said.