St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem was filled with chants and drum beats on Saturday morning as people of all ages came together to rally against gun violence.

“Are we sick and tired of being sick and tired?” Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. co-founder Jackie Rowe-Adams asked the crowd, which cheered in agreement. “Enough is enough with these guns that’s getting in the hands of our kids.”

The rally wrapped up a morning full of anti-gun violence events that were part of the annual Harlem Week celebration. Runners also raced through a 5K, walkers marched for a mile-and-a-half, and various neighborhood organizations urged the community to work together to save lives.

“I’m a mother who lost two kids to gun violence,” said Rowe-Adams, whose group unites parents of shooting victims to advocate for public safety. “I can’t bring back my two kids. But I can certainly help another mother, another father, another family from taking the pain and hurt that I’ve been feeling.”

Rosa Salas, 51, came from New Jersey to get some exercise and support a cause that’s personal to her. She lost her daughter’s father in a shooting almost three decades ago, when she was four months pregnant. All these years later, it’s still hard for her to turn on the news and see the same stories.

“Another life taken, you know, for no reason. And it's just very sad,” Salas said. “So many mothers, I grieve with them. Even though I don't know them, I grieve with them every day. Every time I see a story.”

Salas takes the subway into the city for work every day, and she said she’s been more nervous lately.

“I’m very scared all the time,” she said. “I have to, you know, make sure I’m paying attention and not be too close to the subway, and just always being very aware of my surroundings, because you never know.”

Beverly Largie said she’s felt the city change since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s brought up a lot of fears in people,” she said.

Largie came with a group of walkers from the Parkchester Senior Center in the Bronx. She said she mostly stays inside after dark, and so do most of her older friends. But she wants something better for younger New Yorkers, so she’s trying to set a good example.

“It’s like you’re putting a pebble in the water. You drop it in and it has ripple effects,” Largie said. “So that’s what we have to do: be that pebble.”

Carmen Hernandez, 71, also from the Bronx, said it takes a village to stop gun violence. And she’s frustrated that politics often seem to get in the way.

“I just don’t understand why they shut the gun law down,” she said, referring to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned New York’s strict concealed carry law, which had been in place since 1911. “Doing that is bringing out more gun violence.”

“This is the new America,” said her friend Maria Gonzalez, 77.

Both women want to see more support for police. As they walked, Gonzalez waved over officers along the route and gave them hugs.

Shootings are down 10% compared to this time last year, and murders have dropped by 8%, according to police data. Homicides are also well below the city’s historic highs from decades ago. But both shootings and homicides are still above their pre-pandemic lows.

Upticks in violent crime since the start of the pandemic have sparked a backlash against several of New York’s criminal justice reform measures, including changes to the bail laws and calls to reallocate some police funding for social services.

Rowe-Adams of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. thinks the community needs to work with police and the district attorney to prevent more shootings.

“It’s not snitching,” she said. “It’s saving a life.”