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'Occupy the Corners' to take back the streets

August 17, 2012 8:11:21 PM PDT
Gun violence, bloodshed, and the loss of innocent lives is almost a daily occurrence on the streets of New York.

The countless tragedies have become all too familiar.

Starting Friday night, in every borough, residents are taking back their streets by standing on the corners of some of the most dangerous blocks in an effort to stop the violence.

"He was more than a cousin to me he was more like my brother," said Jhoanny Duran, the victim's cousin.

Jhoanny Duran still hurts when she talks about her cousin Wilmer Hernandez.

"My cousin was killed senselessly," Duran said.

The 20-year-old was gunned down at the corner of Mace Avenue in the Bronx a year ago. He was another victim of gun violence in the city.

"I just want people to understand that the gun violence going on they are killing our youth," said Iesha Sekou, a participant.

Iesha Sekou gets it and Friday night she along with dozens of others will stand up and take to street corners around the city.

More than anything, it is a symbol of a community's outrage over the bloodshed.

"We want the community to show their outrage but not in a negative way, to say we are tired and looking to resolve conflicts in the community so that we can bring peace," Sekou said.

How to stop the violence has been a subject of intense debate in the city.

The NYPD's Stop and Frisk policy has been challenged, as well as other tactics.

''It is true that unfortunately in our city and other places across the country, crime rate is much higher among certain ethnic groups. Ok let's do something about it, not complain. The first thing you've got to do is stop the crime," Mayor Bloomberg said.

It was the murder of 4-year-old Lloyd Morgan that led to a pledge to help.

The Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network came up with a program they're calling "Occupy the Corners".

Members of the community will spread out to different city corners, like the one where Wilmer Hernandez lost his life, and engage the residents in a positive way.

They are hoping to send a message to people committing crimes.

"At least they will be uncomfortable and know that people are standing there and they are not considered what is vogue in our community," Sharpton said.

"(Do you think something like that can work?) Yes it's the awareness," Duran said.

That awareness is something Jhoanny Duran believes may save lives.

"My family is still grieving and we're still going to be grieving for a very long time," Duran said.

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