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Yorkers were out in full force Sunday afternoon with one goal: Stop the violence.

Around 50 people of all ages marched from the intersection of South Penn and West Market streets to the 600 block of West Princess Street, carrying signs and chanting for peace.

The cause: John Beck, of York City, who helped organized the event and previous marches, initially said the group would wait until warmer weather to start marching again. With the recent string of shootings, he decided the march could not wait.

"We had to do something," he said.

Beck said the shootings have concerned a lot of people, hence the large turnout.

"Everybody's worried about this," he said. There have been at least 10 shootings in the past three weeks, which Beck called  "unacceptable."

Beck, who has lived in the city for his whole life and has seen violence there, said it's never quite been as bad as it is now.

"This is definitely the worst it's been," he said.

Work for change: Beck said his inspiration for organizing the events is Jerri Zimmerman, who organized marches in the 1990s to fight against drugs in the city.

Zimmerman, still in the protesting spirit, participated in Sunday's march. She said she has been shot at 13 times and had her house firebombed, but she is still out there.

"I will not back down, I will not go away," she said.

Zimmerman said changing the community requires work.

"We want to save the community, we have to work for it," she said, adding that there is no "easy answer" to the shootings that have happened recently.

"We need to get involved," she said.

Children: Among the adults chanting for change were several children, chanting along with them. One boy had a sign that said "Let me play safe."

Ginnie Rivera, of York City, was with her two children and a friend of her daughter. She said the recent shootings have affected her kids' childhoods. Her daughter, 14-year-old Mariah Ream, and her friend 13-year-old Diamani Simon said their lives have been affected by the recent violence in the city.

"It makes us scared to do anything, anywhere," Diamani said.

"I don't like living here," Mariah said, adding that she is afraid of being shot. She said she hopes to move out of the city.

Rivera said her daughter doesn't go out very often because she is afraid.

"She just stays home and plays on her phone," she said.

Michael Vega, 11, of York City, saw people heading to the march and decided to participate.

"I would have made a sign if I knew what was happening," he said.

Michael said his life has been affected by the violence in the city, saying someone once threw a brick through his window. More recently, he was struck by a drunk driver and injured his leg.

"This has affected my life because I wanted to play football," he said.

He showed a large scar on the bottom of his leg he received from getting hit by the drunk driver.

"I've got to stay positive about the situation," he said.

The march: The march, which kicked off around 3:15 and ended around 4, had about 50 people chanting and carrying signs to end the violence in the city.

"Whose street? Our street!" they chanted.

Cars honked in support of the marchers as they made their way through the city. Neighbors poked their heads out front doors and cheered in support of the cause.

"Stop the violence, man!" someone yelled from their car alongside the marchers.

The large turnout was a positive sign for Beck, whose last organized march in November did not have quite the turnout this one had.

"I'm very happy about this," he said. "We're going to keep doing this."

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at

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