New Yorkers gathered in solidarity with the victims of the Charleston, South Carolina, shootings at a somber vigil in Union Square and Harlem on Thursday night.
Appalled by the massacre of nine members of a historic black church, the ralliers of all ages and backgrounds, called for peace. "We want Charleston to know that we're not going to sleep without you in our minds. We're thinking of you, we're praying for you, many of us are crying for you," Richard Price of the Harlem Church of Christ told the crowd at Union Square.
The crowd of about 100 carried signs with messages like "Black Lives Matter," and expressed frustration over the murders. Kalisa Moore, 27, an educator from Sunnyside, said the nation needs more work when it comes to civil rights. "I am here to support South Carolina, and basically to bring to light the fact that racism still exists. I'm fed up," she said.
The crowd went north to the Bethel AME church on West 132nd Street, joining another protest group, and arrived to cheers and car-honks from onlookers.
"People don't really seem to know what happened and it's important that people know what's happening in America. How important gun control is," said Christopher Garrick, 18, a student.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, elected officials, clergy, parishioners and the NYPD met for a meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall to discuss safety in houses of worship following the shooting.
Borough President Eric Adams pushed churches to collaborate with the NYPD when it comes to potential threats to their congregations. "We want to show them that, 'No, this is very much a part of your universe,' " he said.
Community advocate Anthony Herbert emphasized the importance of meetings between organizations in dealing with acts of violence.
"We need this organization, this structure to denounce it as much as possible," he said.