Dozens of women in bridal gowns and men wearing black walked through northern Manhattan and South Bronx Monday to raise awareness of domestic violence, on the anniversary of the death of a local woman who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend.
The 11th Annual Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk led participants on a seven-mile route through Washington Heights, Harlem, East Harlem and sections of the Bronx.
The annual event, organized by New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence, is named for Gladys Ricart, who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend on September 26, 1999, hours before she was supposed to marry someone else.
Two years later, Josie Ashton came up with the idea for the march.
"I was very disappointed at the murder, but I was even more disgusted with the response of the community," said Ashton.
"I think that we sometimes feel foolish to put on bridal gowns and march seven miles, but if there's one woman that we pass who sees one of our signs and sees that number for Safe Horizon [assistance agency], or just sees something in one of our faces, that we're willing to do this, we just ask you to speak up," said marcher Emily Quinn, who sported a bridal dress and veil.
The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence reported 75 family-related homicides in 2010, up from 62 in 2009. This has sparked the launch of an advocacy campaign by the police commissioner and City Council.
"If you think someone in your building or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, you need to step forward, because often it is too hard for the victim themselves to do it," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The issue has not only attracted women who want to help, but men as well.
"One of our goals is to really help men and boys be better visible allies to women and girls around these issues in our communities," said Joe Samalin of Men Can Stop Rape.
Organizers hope to inspire similar marches against domestic violence across the country.
For more information, visit www.BridesMarch.com.