By Journalist Ms. Jones
NEWBURGH – On Sunday, July 10th community members and Newburgh Free Academy’s Track Team ran or walked two laps around Downing Park. They didn’t do it for exercise. They did it for Marc.
“I had the Fun Run because my son was killed by senseless gun violence back in 2018… I was looking for programs that worked directly with people that have been through it as parents and for children, because I have other kids that are suffering from the effects of his death. So basically, I looked and looked for two years. I didn’t find anything. So, I ended up creating a program that deals with that,” said Jemika Hall.
Hall is the mother of D’Marcus “Marc” Hooper. He was killed by a gun at the age of 17. She created the organization M.A.R.C.S Friends, which stands for Making A Real Change, and held the Fun Run in honor of Marc.
“It’s a perfect way to celebrate her son’s life and it’s his birthday today. He would have been 22 today… I told her what a perfect, positive way to entertain it,” said Mariah Henry, Vice President of M.A.R.C.S Friends, who emceed the Fun Run and performed spoken word.
The focus of the Fun Run was to alleviate gun violence and bullying.
“[To end gun violence] everybody has to be a part of it via events like this… Everybody has to want it. Unless everybody wants it, it will never be able to stop… The community just has to come together and say, ‘Look, we can’t accept all this… We have to speak up.’ They know who does some of the stuff… They feel like, ‘We can’t be that person that says something,’ which shouldn’t be the case. If you see something, say something. Kids shouldn’t be getting shot just walking down the street. Kids shouldn’t be scared to go outside to play,” said Officer Terrance Peterson.
Councilman Anthony Grice came out to support the Fun Run.
“When it comes to crime, reducing it is actually a complex issue… There has to be a combination of organizations such as M.A.R.C.S Friends, SNUG and our police department and community members coming together to reduce crime to at least keep it where it’s not the everyday occurrence or the norm, where it’s like, ‘We don’t do that around here,’” said Councilman Grice.
Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson spoke at the Fun Run. He shared what he is doing in Albany.
“It’s so important that we get rid of the illegal guns. There is this trafficking that’s coming up from the south. It comes up the iron highway of route 95. I represent Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie as well, and we have too many shootings here. But the guns aren’t manufactured here in New York State. So, we have to really dedicate ourselves and we all have to speak up. If you know about illegal guns, let the officers know,” said Assemblyman Jacobson. “We’ve done some things in Albany, unlike what’s happening on the national level, and unlike what’s happening, in other states. We have red flag laws in New York State. What that means is that if you know that someone is going to be a threat to themselves or others that the family member, police, school officials, they can go to court. There’s a hearing to take guns away from this individual. We’ve also strengthened what it takes to get a gun in New York State. We just passed this because the Supreme Court struck down our concealed carry laws. So, we passed new laws immediately, within 10 days of the decision, and now signed into law to make sure that there are certain sensitive places in New York, that you can’t carry a gun. That includes rallies. That includes grocery stores, stadiums, schools, government places, places where people congregate. We also said that you can’t buy rifles until you’re age 21. We also put in for the background checks that those doing the background checks have to look at, and the person has to give their social media for the past three years. On all these mass shootings, these people are crying out for help or at least they’re telling us what they’re going to do. One other thing we did is to restrict who can buy body armor. If we can’t stop all the shootings, at least we could take away their protection.”
After the run, participants enjoyed a barbeque. Jewelz Lounge helped people stay cool with Italian Ice. Vendors shared their products and services with the crowd. Artists sang, rapped, and performed spoken word. They included Soleya Stakk, R.I.A.H., Ice TheGod, India Ivonna, Hood Soul, and 19 Doral. Minister Paris Stovall ended the event with words of inspiration. DJ King Cyrus, DJ E Skillz, and DJ Jaggan Hype kept the music flowing. Narcan training and supplies were also given.