'Day of Outrage' puts spotlight on gun violence

November 23, 2009 3:33:17 PM PST
Anti-gun activists and victims of gun violence took part in a National Day of Outrage in New York and other major U.S. cities Monday. The event was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network. The rally was held in the Grand Concourse section of the Bronx, as residents tried to bring attention to the violence that has plagued the borough of late.

Participants say shootings are destroying the lives of young and old. They cite the example of a 92-year-old Bronx woman who was killed by a random bullet in October as she sat watching television in her home. And a young girl remains hospitalized after she was struck in the head by a stray bullet last week.

Leola Graves-Hayes' 16-year-old son was shot to death seven years ago.

"It does good, because if it happens to someone else, they gonna want to come out here and have a day of outrage," she said.

In the Bronx, there is a virtual roll call of those whose lives were cut tragically short by gun violence in recent months.

In August, 20-year-old Gregory Velasquez was shot to death as he headed home from the store. His mother and sister attended the rally.

"I would like for people to understand that being out there with a gun is not the right thing to do, because you're killing innocent people out there," sister Tanairi Velasquez said.

Also on the list of victims are 25-year-old Aisha Santiago. In September, she was caught in crossfire, pushed her son to safety and fatally took a bullet to the back. Then, last week, 15-year-old Vada Vasquez was shot a block from school. She was an innocent bystander who is left clinging to life.

Organizers say their hope is that rallies like this put a face on the pain.

"The victims are the key and crucial point of this, because the survivors, they're broken-hearted, their lives are destroyed, their families are never the same," said Gloria Cruz, of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

Organizers say rallies were being held in 20 other cities, including Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.