By Hannah Reale
On Saturday, more than 100,000 people marched in New York City to end gun violence. The March for Our Lives, organized by student survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, coordinated marches in 845 locations around the world.
Participants were supposed to march from 72nd Street and Central Park West to 43rd Street and 6th Avenue but were redirected to 96th Street, and possibly higher, due to the large crowd size.
According to one of the approximately 60 uniformed “marshals” — trained volunteers stationed every couple blocks to answer questions and deal with any problems that might arise — the originally estimated turnout was just 50,000. A police officer said that he had arrived at 6:30 in the morning and there were already crowds gathering. The mayor said on Twitter that there were 150,000 marchers. An organizer said 200,000 during a speech at the start of the march.
Photo by Scott Matthews.
Advocates and organizers spoke to the crowd from a stage on 62nd Street and Central Park West, making impassioned speeches about the need to prevent further gun-induced harm, and their voices were broadcasted up the avenue over speakers. Speakers included family members of 14-year-old Parkland shooting victim Gina Montalto, 16-year-old Parkland shooting survivor Sam Hendler, NYC March organizer and Columbia Law School student Alex Clavering, a representative from the Black Lives Matter movement, and many people who had lost relatives and friends to gun violence.
Many of the speakers hit on similar talking points, asking the crowd to consider how they can further be engaged in the Never Again movement and to remember that gun violence disproportionately affects black and Latino communities.
“We will no longer let our stories end with bullets,” said Nza-Ari Khepra, a 19-year-old college student who founded an awareness group called Project Orange Tree after her 15-year-old friend Hadiya Pendleton was killed in 2013 on the South Side of Chicago.
— Jessica Brockington (@birdyuws) March 24, 2018
The speakers also encouraged attendees to register to vote. Volunteers stood at the sides of the march with voter registration forms.
The march began around noon, with hundreds of thousands of people walking downtown. As participants passed by Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle, they booed, hissed, and chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”
The crowd often broke out in chants, yelling, “Vote them out,” “Enough is enough,” and “Books, not bullets.” One group of students chanted, “Two four six eight, we just want to graduate.”
Hundreds of signs were held up, some carried on rulers, hockey sticks, and even Swiffers. The posters called out politicians who took donations from the gun lobby, listed the victims of recent school shootings, and featured various anti-NRA and anti-Trump obscenities. Several teachers carried signs that requested more funding for schools rather than guns for teachers — a solution floated by the Trump administration. A few children held posters that read, “Am I next?”
— Joy Bergmann (@JoyBergmann) March 24, 2018
Celebrities like New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and renowned musician Paul McCartney were spotted at the New York march, with McCartney speaking to CNN about John Lennon’s death by gun violence almost 40 years ago.
Other marches also drew large crowds, with hundreds of thousands marching in Washington D.C. and large crowds in Los Angeles. Marches were planned for every state in the U.S. and on six continents.