City joins 1 Billion Rising to end violence against women

As little girls played carefree and flung snowballs in the air Friday, some skipped down the sidewalk where a beat thumped through the heart of Williamsport on Fourth Street, carrying with it the spirit of more than 1 billion people joining to end violence against women.

In front of City Hall, a flash mob dressed in red, pink and black danced, part of the 1 Billion Rising for Justice movement, in which more than 1 billion people in 207 countries participated in on Valentine’s Day of 2013.

The movement “is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice,” according to the website,

As Williamsport resident Cydne Shull sang Tena Clark’s “Break the Chain,” seven local residents, family and friends danced to the globally choreographed music, framed by crimson balloons.

Passersby – women and men – gathered and held pink-markered signs for everyone to rise up and break the chains of violence that hurts all.

“This is my body, my body’s holy. No more excuses, no more abuses. We are mothers, we are teachers. We are beautiful, beautiful creatures,” Shull sang.

Emma Sciacca, 10, of Williamsport, danced with her mom Amy Sciacca. Emma Sciacca said she wanted to get involved “because violence can hurt one another and the person you love.”

Morning Martz, of South Williamsport, danced with her daughter Aubrianna Kemrer, 7. For Martz, the movement is important as she is familiar with the effects of domestic violence.

“I think it’s important to educate people because this happens every day,” Martz said.

Alissa Day, of Williamsport, danced with her friends and said it’s crucial to get the word out to end violence.

“Hopefully women will stand up for themselves and realize you don’t have to take that. You’re better than that,” Day said, who knows people impacted by domestic violence.

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana attended and said he has seven sisters, and it’s important to respect women.

“We detest violence in Williamsport, and today, we especially detest violence against women. We need to educate the public about violence, that it’s not acceptable. We need to educate women as young girls to respect themselves and men to respect women,” Campana said.

Holly Patton Shull organized the Williamsport movement with her daughter Cydne Shull, and friend Tonya Anderson.

“I think so much of our problems will be healed” if violence against women ends, Patton Shull said. “I believe when people beat up women, they beat up their mothers. … Stop viewing women as property and victims, and love us as partners and human beings.”

Anderson said they saw the global movement and wanted to bring it to Lycoming County. She hopes next year more will join in locally and broaden the impact.

“All great things started with people who really care,” Anderson said. “We can stand up and end violence.”

Cydne Shull used to work for the YWCA’s Liberty House, and met many of those in the day’s participants there.

Playwright and activist Eve Ensler, known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” and her campaign V-Day started the global campaign.