Outraged by America's mass shootings and inspired by the survivors of the nation's latest massacre in Parkland, Fla., nearly 200,000 protesters marched in New York City on Saturday to demand action on gun control. Parents who marched said they were scared for their children. Children who marched said they were scared for one another. The crowd was thick with emotion.
Danielle Weinstein, 28, of Astoria, N.Y., said she wept while making her sign, which listed the names and ages of every school shooting victim from Columbine to Parkland.
"I wanted to honor the kids who lost their lives, who can't be here to see that we're finally doing something about it," she said.
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Signs above the sea of bodies read “Disarm Hate” and “The NRA Sells Guns, Not Freedom.” Organizers moved up and down the packed crowd urging young people to register to vote. Chants of "enough is enough" reverberated through the streets while the youngest marchers stood on their tiptoes, struggling to see and to be seen.
March For Our Lives
The March for Our Lives rally in New York was part of a mass mobilization across the country, anchored by a main march in Washington, D.C., and accompanied by sister marches in every state in the U.S. Organized by the survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day that left 17 people dead, protesters gathered to make a powerful statement against gun violence and call on lawmakers to pass stricter legislation or face consequences at the polls.
New York state assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino marched with a group of students from Massapequa High School on Long Island to support her “constituents,” she said, many of whom are not yet old enough to vote.
“If they don’t hear us today, they’ll hear from us in November,” she said. “We’re here because we want to say ‘not one more student.' "
For many of the marchers, this was a moment for solidarity.
Elana Wernick and Emily Ross, both 16, traveled from Long Island to march in Manhattan. Dressed conspicuously in neon orange “March for Our Lives” sweatshirts, the girls, who attend Half Hollow Hills High School West, said something must change, and they are standing in unity with students across the country to agitate for it.
“I had friends in Parkland,” Ross said. “I feel it’s important to support them.”
Wernick said she feels safe in her school, but knows "anything could happen at anytime."
“I think the amount (of guns) needs to be limited," she said.
John Woodward, 49, of Huntington, N.Y., gestured toward each of his daughters, an 11-year-old on his left and a 17-year-old on his right, to make clear why he marched.
"I think safety in schools is very important and it's been neglected," he said. "I'm really inspired by the kids who have come out to march and I'm with them 100%."
Tahara Anderson, 42, from Wantagh, N.Y., also said she's standing with the kids. She marched for her boys, ages 10 and 7.
"One of them was really scared because the lockdown drills have increased," she said. "He was crying, 'What if I'm in the hall, what if I can't get to my brother?'"
Anderson said the school shootings have left her with a "feeling of dread" but that the new crop of student activists have given her hope.
"What an inspiration they are," she said. "Maybe they will be the voice that will bring the change."