Shouts of “No more silence, no more violence,” and “What do we want? Safe homes. When do we want it? Now,” rang out through the streets of South Williamsburg Tuesday evening.
From red-brick apartment buildings, curious onlookers peered from their windows at the marchers below carrying signs reading, “No one deserves to be abused,” “Choose respect choose peace,” “Domestic violence is a crime.”
The group, most doffing purple bandanas, and holding candles, both battery operated, and those made with wax, were taking part in the annual candlelight vigil and march against domestic violence in Williamsburg organized by the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Domestic Violence along with Southside United HDFC – Los Sures.
“North Brooklyn is unique in the sense that so many organizations come together and recognize that this is an important issue,” said Abby Tuller, the Executive Director for the North Brooklyn Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “It is important for the community to know that they have so many resources available to them, and there is always a way that we can band together.”
One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. There were 26 deaths as a result of domestic violence in Brooklyn last year, the highest among the five boroughs.
“There is a culture of machismo in our community and it’s ingrained that the man is supposed to be the head of the household, which is the root of our problems in this neighborhood,” said Ramon Peguero, Executive Director of Los Sures. “I’m so glad to see the number of young people who have come out tonight because it is important for them to be involved to end this cycle because it is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.”
Among those at the rally were victims of domestic violence who had come out to share their stories, promote solidarity, and to reassure those who were afraid to voice their experiences.
“People often get scared because they are not educated, they have never worked before, and they don’t have financial support,” said Mildred Rodriguez, who was in an abusive relationship for two years before she left her partner and took him to court. “But we have to let these victims know that they have the support of so many organizations in our community and that they don’t have to keep quiet.”
Elected officials, including Councilmember Antonio Reynoso spoke in solidarity with the group at the vigil following the march from Continental Army Plaza to the 90th Precinct on Union Avenue. Reynoso stressed the significance of men participating in the march and raising a voice against domestic violence.
“This is not a women’s issue, this is a community issue,” said Reynoso, addressing the crowd, over a third of which was comprised of men. “This is a consistent issue we must deal with on a daily basis and the men stand in solidarity here.”