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More than 100 women, men, and youth marched through the streets of Washington Heights, the South Bronx, Harlem and East Harlem, on September 26, 2012, to remember Gladys Ricart, Jessica Ibe, her 2 young daughters, and numerous other women and children who have been killed in domestic violence incidents. The march aims to raise awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence on Latinas/os and other families and communities. As the many posters carried by the marchers show, the march also serves to let communities know that services and resources are available to help them. Help is also available for men who want to change their violent behavior.
Many of the women in the march wore wedding gowns (in memory of Gladys Ricart who was killed on her wedding day in September 1999) and the men dressed in black as a symbol of mourning. The marchers included members of the Ricart and Ibe families, survivors, advocates, elected officials, union organizers, and many supporters from the community. This year, because school was out, many children joined the march.
Prior to the march, participants who gathered at the Fort Washington Heights Presbyterian Church, heard from several speakers, including Jose Ashton, the originator of the Brides March; Adelita M. Medina, Executive Director, Alianza; Karina Aybar-Jacobs, Director, Nuevo Amanecer; as well as from several elected officials including Christine Quinn, NYC Council Speaker, Council Members Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, and State Senator Adriana Espaillat.
The 6.5 mile march made a stop in the Bronx in front of the Court building where the marchers were addressed by Jessica Ibe's mother; Yolanda Jimenez from the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence; and a representative from the Borough President's office. About an hour later around 3 p.m., the march culminated at St. Cecilia's Catholic Church in East Harlem where speakers heard from Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito; DV Survivor, Advocate, and Business woman Dawn Maestas (who is also a consultant for Alianza); and from a representative of the New York Order of Protection Services (NY OPS), an organization that helps victims gather evidence and documentation needed by the courts when their orders of protection have been violated.
The Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk/Brides' March Against Domestic Violence is an annual event which was started in New York City in 2001 to remember Gladys Ricart, a Dominican woman from Washington Heights, who was murdered by a former abusive boyfriend on the day she was to wed someone else.
The first March took place on September 26, 2001, the second anniversary of Gladys' murder. The idea for the March was originated by Josie Ashton, a young Dominican woman from Florida, who was immensely moved by the murder and outraged at the media and community's insensitive response. Josie resigned from her job and sacrificed more than three months of her life to walk, in a wedding gown, through several states down the East Coast to her home state of Florida, in an attempt to draw attention to the horrors of domestic violence and to let victims know that there are services available to help them.
The march was coordinated by Grace Perez and supported by numerous organizations including: the families of of Gladys Ricart and Jessica Ibe; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito; Nuevo Amanecer/Dominican Women's Development Center; 1199 SEIU; the Fathering Initiative of Forestdale, Inc.; Harlem Renaissance Walks Team of Harlem Hospital; Center/Renaissance Healthcare Network; Mount Sinai SAVI Program; Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation; Office of Multicultural Affairs at Pace University; STEPS to End Family Violence; Violence Intervention Program, Inc.; Violence Intervention Treatment Program of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center; Voices of Women Organizing Project; and Women and the Gender Studies Program at Hunter College.