“SafeWalks NYC” began in Bushwick, Brooklyn last January, and offers accompanied walks to or from home for those who feel unsafe. As attacks have increased in the city recently, especially against AAPI women and other women of color, the group is working harder to be a viable option for people who long to feel more secure getting home.
To request a “SafeWalk,” New Yorkers just have to fill out their Google form here with at least 40 minutes notice, and someone from a network of volunteers will meet you there to walk you home. If you have an urgent request, you can DM them on Instagram @safewalksnyc.
The group was started by Brooklyn resident Peter Kerre after he saw news of the attacks last year, mostly on women walking alone from the subway, and knew he had to do something to change that.
“I saw her picture and her face was bruised and I was so mad. I have a sister in the neighborhood too and she works at night. This hits close to home,” Kerre told Pix11.
In just two weeks’ time, they had grown their volunteer list to over 170 people from the community. Now, they have seen over 2,000 sign-ups of volunteers, with 200 regular members. You can see their volunteer vetting process below.
Since they began, Kerre told NBC News the volunteer team has assisted with over 1,000 walks.
Just last weekend, they onboarded a new group of volunteers after a vigil for Christina Yuna Lee, who was tragically killed in her own apartment after being followed inside last month. “We felt that it was important to bring all to pay respects at the vigil…to reflect on her passing , talk about the plight facing our current communities, and to reaffirm our commitment to being a presence for community members who feel unsafe. Afterwards, we resumed work, safe walking New Yorkers across the city,” they wrote.
SafeWalks is currently serving Manhattan, Bushwick, Brooklyn, and Chinatown (which they began after the spike in xenophobic attacks on elderly Asian people). They are working on expanding into other boroughs and neighborhoods including Harlem and Queens, and are in the process of organizing a system for across the city and even starting an app.
They are also looking into virtual engagement opportunities, like self-defense classes, personal safety tips/discussion panels, and other ways to bolster community building and engagement.
Kerre is also the founder of Street Riders NYC, a bicycle activism group.
Stay up-to-date on their Instagram page here or their new website. You can also find info on how to volunteer on this page, or if you are unable and still want to support, you can donate to them via Venmo or CashApp, or GoFundMe.
For round-trip/public transit requests, they require 24 hours notice and prioritize emergencies, vaccine appointments and extreme need situations.