“I’m here because I don’t want kids to live in fear,” said one college student
Tens of thousands of people gathered Saturday in New York to say “never again.”
Protesters of all ages swarmed Manhattan to mourn victims of gun violence and demand legislative action in a sister march to the Washington, D.C., March for Our Lives. Many young marchers, echoing the Parkland, Fla., teen activists who spearheaded a national movement after a shooting at their school claimed 17 lives, voiced anger at America’s mass shooting epidemic and hope that their generation could finally turn the tide.
“I’m here because I don’t want kids to live in fear,” Jesse Lee, a Monmouth University sophomore, told Moneyish. “People in schools, people in churches, people walking in the streets, trans people, black people, Hispanic people — I don’t want them to live their lives in fear, so I’m doing something about it.”
The massive New York demonstration, one of more than 800 gun-control marches organized worldwide, originated near Central Park West and drew an estimated 150,000 people, per a tweet from Mayor de Blasio — including famous faces like HBO star turned gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and Beatles frontman Paul McCartney, who told CNN he was marching in honor of slain bandmate John Lennon.
Protesters chanted, “Vote them out!” and “No more silence; end gun violence!” while carrying signs bearing messages like “Close the loopholes,” “Am I next?” and “Arms are for hugging.” March organizers, meanwhile, urged participants to register to vote.
Faith Rosenthal, who attends eighth grade in Suffern, N.Y., argued the country needed stricter gun laws. “It’s just not right that people are getting shot by guns in their own schools,” she said. “We should be safe in our schools, not scared.” Maleah Rohan, a 17-year-old from Bergenfield, N.J., said she was “angry” school shootings remained a regular occurrence. “It’s just escalating,” she said. “It shouldn’t be.”
“We’ve seen so many lives being taken since Sandy Hook, and nothing has changed over the past few years,” said Nicole Arevalo, a Bronx high school senior. “I don’t want us to keep voting for people who are not doing anything in office. They’re not making any change.”
The rally, which kicked off with a reading of the names of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims, featured speeches from survivors of the Parkland and Sandy Hook mass shootings and Nza-Ari Khepra, founder of the Chicago-based gun-violence prevention group Project Orange Tree. “There’s much more that could have been done to prevent this,” Parkland survivor Meghan Bonner said through tears. “I don’t want to feel unsafe in school anymore. I want to see change.”
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