Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn, left, and state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier before the walk begins on Thursday. In the background at left are North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard and, in green, City Councilors Jason LaForest and Benjamin Lamb.
Members of the Berkshire delegation join Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash for Walk A Mile In Her Shoes.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hundreds walked, and some stumbled, down North Street in high heels during the Walk a Mile In Her Shoes march to raise money and spread awareness of gender violence.
Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick welcomed all the walkers who came out during the event at Third Thursday, including elected officials, business leaders, residents from throughout the county and all those who demand change.
"I want to welcome you to the eighth annual march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence and you all are looking so good," she said.
Money raised for the march goes to support the Elizabeth Freeman Center and Broderick said they had already surpassed last year's amount of $70,000 without counting donations received on Thursday.
The nonprofit center provides counseling, shelter, and legal advocacy for victims of domestic and sexual violence. It has offices in Pittsfield, North Adams, and Great Barrington and can be reached 24/7 by calling toll-free at 1-866-401-2425.
Some people marched individually while others marched in groups.
Broderick said Berkshire County is not free from rape, sexual assault, and gender violence and noted that there have been six domestic violence murders in the last four years. She added that last year alone, the center helped 2,600 people from throughout the county.
"Still we know that we are only scratching the surface … and these are community atrocities that need and deserve a community response," she said. "We are creating a movement right here in the Berkshires."
Broderick noted that there is still much work to be done and said this is obvious by just turning on the news.
"Those horrifying excuses for rape that are said: 'boys will be boys,' 'uncontrollable male passion.' They are tired, they are old, and they don't work anymore," she said. "We are better than that."
Before the march started, Broderick said if awareness continues to grow and people continue to fight against sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment, the future will be a better one.
"We take collective action through partnership, so our response together is faster and better," she said. "We walk tonight because we want change. We walk tonight for a better today and a brighter and safer future for our children."
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