Black Lives Matter protesters gathered Friday in New York City alongside the families of George Floyd, Eric Garner and other victims to speak out against racism and police brutality in America as well as the rise in gun violence that has affected some cities.
The families helped kick off the "Take Your Knee Off Our Necks" protests, which went from Times Square to Trump Tower in the heart of Manhattan.
Terrence Floyd attended the protests to demand justice for victims, including his 46-year-old brother, George Floyd, who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police during an arrest in May, police said.
Terrence Floyd stood along with advocates for Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black medical worker who was fatally shot by plainclothes officers in her Louisville home in March.
Family members of Eric Garner -- a Staten Island man who died after police put him in a prohibited chokehold -- and Sean Bell -- an unarmed Black man fatally shot by plainclothes New York City police officers who fired at least 50 rounds at him in 2006 -- were also in a attendance.
Rev. Kevin McCall, who help lead Friday's demonstration, said he united the families along with protesters to speak out against rising gun violence, specifically in New York City, and police brutality.
“It will be 66 days on Friday and still there is no justice for George Floyd. And not only Floyd but all these families from Abner Louima to the cases we’re seeing now,” McCall said, referring to the family of a Haitian man who was sexually assaulted and brutalized by New York City Police officers in 1997.
“Before we had alternatives in terms of jobs, but because of COVID, we’re now lacking those resources," McCall told ABC News. "We don't have those same options. So young people are turning to violence, and it’s rapidly happening here in New York City.”
Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, also attended the demonstration. She said was proud to be an active member of the movement, especially after former President Barack Obama uplifted the Black Lives Matter movement during his eulogy of congressman John Lewis on Thursday, calling it an extension of the civil rights movement.
“I’m proud that he acknowledged that,” Carr told ABC News. “The people are in the streets and for President Obama to say that it keeps the fire going.”
"Black Lives Matter should always matter. They should matter when there is street violence. They should matter when there is inequality in education or inequality with the job market … all of that symbolizes Black Lives Matter,” she added.
McCall, one of the activists behind Friday's protests, echoed Carr's statement, explaining that Black lives should matter at all times, but especially when the community is being disproportionately impacted by increasing gun violence.
In June, the city of New York saw a shooting increase of 130% with incidents rising in every borough, according to the New York City Police Department.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea issued a citywide initiative to the alarming increase, focusing on more patrols in areas with high shooting rates and creating better partnerships with community organizations.
But McCall said he'd like to see the city go further by making significant investments in social services and youth programs to help decrease crime rates amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mike Tucker, the founder of NYC's Lay the Guns Down Foundation, said he sees a correlation between rising violence and the growing pandemic, especially when it comes to low-income residents.
“Businesses that were very important to the community are now not going to be reopening because of this pandemic. We need to find more ways to bring resources and financial stability to these businesses," Tucker told ABC News. "The stimulus packages didn't hit the communities, so those businesses are gone … that has a grave impact because those are people that employed the community.”
Tucker, whose organization provides support and resources for families impacted by gun violence, said he hopes to ignite change by protesting continuously.
“With this moment, so many different people are coming together, people who lost children to police brutality, people who have lost children to gun violence," Tucker said. "We are saying Black Lives Matter and we want to get the message out that we need to stop the violence in our community."