In more than 800 communities across the globe, children, teachers, families and supporters gathered to “March For Our Lives” and demand action from legislators to prevent further gun violence. The demonstrations were organized by high school students, some survivors of shootings, all tired of feeling unsafe in school and fed up with the inaction of adults.
As many as 2 million people participated in the marches across the U.S. on March 24 according to the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC), with an estimated 200,000 in New York City. Though estimates vary, March For Our Lives may have been the biggest single-day protest in Washington D.C. history.
Sparked by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, which left 17 dead, the movement to end gun violence extends beyond school shootings. Gun violence occurs daily in the form of domestic violence, city violence, suicides and accidental deaths. For this reason, the movement intersects with Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March and other existing organizations that already make a difference in their communities, including Everytown For Gun Safety, whose official color orange flashed throughout the large crowd.
Paul McCartney attended the NYC march and told CNN “One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here, so it’s important to me,” referring to John Lennon’s death at the hands of a gunman.
David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and spokesman for March For Our Lives, has clear policy demands for politicians: the digitization of ATF records, a requirement for universal background checks that will close the gun show loophole, a ban on high-capacity magazines, a ban on assault weapons and funding for federal gun violence research.
Chanting “never again,” “enough is enough” and “hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go,” demonstrators expressed their disgust at politicians who appear to value the support of the NRA over the lives of children. One sign read “This is the real pro-life movement”; another listed the names of U.S. Senators and how much money each has accepted from the NRA, with the call-to-action “Vote them out!”
Other signs addressed the suggestion by some to arm teachers as a defense against school shooters. Teachers in attendance preferred to be armed with books anbd red pens.
Volunteers at each march stood by to register attendees to vote, if they were not already registered. Seventeen-year-olds who will turn 18 before November filled out the forms so that their voices will be heard not only in the streets, but at the polls as well.
Long Island hosted 11 March For Our Lives events—in Port Washington, Glen Cove, Old Westbury, Great Neck, Farmingdale, Huntington, Port Jefferson, Patchogue, Long Beach, Cedarhurst and Stony Brook.
Cat Troiano, of Yaphank, attended the Port Jefferson rally with her husband.
“I marched because nobody in our society should have to live in fear of being gunned down every time one leaves their home,” Troiano said. “All kids, from pre-K through college, should feel safe in school and be focused on academics and social growth instead of on shooter drills and fear of not leaving class alive on any given day.”
Eleven-year-old Michael Monasterio-Redelick spoke at the Port Washington March For Our Lives rally in front of the United Methodist Church.
“We hear from politicians, our presidents, and just from a lot of people who have a lot of power that they are going to change it, they are going to make reforms, we are all going to be safe, but it never happens,” he said.
More than 1,500 participants packed into Farmingdale State College’s Nold Hall Athletic Complex, a bipartisan event sponsored by Congress members Tom Suozzi, Kathleen Rice and Peter King. Kevin McCarthy, survivor of the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre and son of former Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, spoke about his experience.
Saturday’s marches took place on the heels of a National School Walkout by students who wished to remember the victims of the Parkland massacre and express to their school administrators and local legislators the need for action. Many local Long Island school districts, such as Port Washington and Great Neck, supported their students during the March 14 walkout, while others, including Hicksville and Miller Place, sought to prevent their students from walking out.