Grieving community members of East Harlem gathered outside of a shuttered Burger King, the same spot where Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19, had been murdered just days before, on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. 
During her routine closing tasks, Bayron-Nieves was held at gunpoint while she cleaned out the register. After receiving the money, the shooter fired, killing Bayron-Nieves, and fled the scene.
Family, friends, neighbors, and outreach groups all congregated, bundled up in layers of scarfs and thick jackets on the cold winter evening in a call-to-action effort to reduce the amount of violence that happens in all five boroughs. Getting Out Staying Out’s Chief Advocacy Officer, Omar Jackson, led the event, giving a powerful and motivating message.
“Justice for Krystal! Justice for Krystal! Justice for Krystal!” chanted Jackson with the crowd. 
“A 19-year-old working to make an honest dollar is not going to make it home to her family, no one should have to go through that,” Jackson said. “It is inhumane and cruel to let communities of color to continue living like this, but who better to fix these issues than us? Our children are dying and it is gonna take every one of us to solve it”
New York City Council member Diana Ayala was among the many impassioned speakers in attendance. Ayala was raised in New York, born in Puerto Rico, and has faced many of the same hardships as the community members she has served and represented for nearly two decades. As a relative of Bayron-Nieves, Ayala lamented the tragedy.
“It was her 14-year-old brother who got the call, can you imagine? Getting the call that your sister passed away in the hospital?” said Ayala. “That trauma stays with you, I know, I grew up in the same conditions. That trauma stays with us.”
A message echoed by all of the speakers was that of a need for change. Ayala almost lost her son in the same neighborhood due to gun violence.
“When I was voted in 4 years ago, three days after the election, my own son was almost shot and killed outside our building because he got caught in the middle of a gang dispute,” said Ayala. “It doesn’t matter who you are, it affects all of us.”
In just the past year, East Harlem experienced 62 shootings according to Manhattan borough president, Mark Levine. The goal of many of the crisis management groups that were in attendance, such as Street Corner Resources, Guns Down Life Up, and King of Kings is to not only support families who experience tragedies such as these but also stop more shootings like this from happening in the first place.
Iesha Sekou, CEO and founder of Street Corner Resources spoke to all of the organizations who were present, calling for action.
“Our crisis management systems are here and our jobs are to not respond to situations like this but prevent situations like this,” said Sekou. “There is a lot of work to be done. We do not want to have to bury another young woman.” 
New York City Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams spoke passionately about his personal history with gun violence, stating the names of classmates he lost in high school due to shootings, emphasizing how the issue is still left to be addressed. Williams cried out how the choices being made regarding public safety needed to be made in conversation with the community and not just by city officials.
“We all need to stop bickering because in between all the bickering, our people are getting killed,” said Williams. “I want you to imagine a place where there is public safety. I guarantee you that in your vision there is not a policeman on every corner. I guarantee you that in your vision locking your community is their answer. But you know what they do have access to? Quality health care and mental health resources! Jobs for their children, food that is more than just potato chips, and affordable housing with heat!” 
Arissa Jackson, sister of Omar Jackson, howled out for help at the cold croud, claiming to represent all the families across New York who are “crying out for help,” said Jackson. “The countless families who have lost their children, said goodbye to their children that morning and never seen them again, help!”
As someone who has faced the same tragedy Bayron-Nieves’s family, tears streamed down Jackson’s face, sharing the story of the loss of her son. 
“It takes me back to August 7, 2006 when I got the call that my son was shot. What mother ever thinks that when they’re in labor that years later their child would be taken out in this dramatic way?”
In a final effort as a cry for help, the group called for divine intervention by closing in prayer, led by Apostle Stacie Ramos of Garden of Gethsemane Ministries.
“Prayer still changes everything,” said Ramos. “Gracious and eternal father, we know that this was premature and we know that this should not have happened but we thank you now for gathering everyone so we can move forward and have it stop.”
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