At Gun-Control Marches Students Shout 'Enough!'

Young activists organize bus to capital, rally in Sag Harbor
Several hundred people took part in a March for Our Lives in Sag Harbor on Saturday as hundreds of similar gun-control rallies took place across the country. Lisa Tamburini

Hundreds of thousands of students, parents, teachers, and their supporters marched through streets across the United States and around the world on Saturday, producing yet another stark visual riposte to the public inertia that usually follows mass shootings in this country. “Enough is enough,” said the students at more than 800 March for Our Lives rallies that took place in Washington,  D.C., New York City, London, Berlin, Mumbai, Sao Paolo, and Sag Harbor, among other cities, making it the biggest gun-control protest in history.

At the main March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students spoke with fluency and eloquence about gun control and increased safety in schools. Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland senior, held the stage for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, much of that in silence — the amount of time it took a shooter to kill 17 people at her school in Florida on Feb. 14. Even the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter led the rally in chants.

Thirty-five East Hampton High School students were part of the D.C. rally, largely due to the efforts of their schoolmates Cate Wicker, a junior, and Sutton Lynch, a senior. 

The duo had initially thought of simply going together and taking the train. “But then we decided that more people needed to be part of this,” said Cate. They had taken part in the March 14 school walkout and felt they needed to keep up the momentum of the student-run movement. So, they scrambled to organize the trip, getting the word out to students, calling bus companies, getting permission slips from parents, and eventually securing a bus that left East Hampton at 5 a.m. on Saturday for the six-hour ride to the capital. “It took a lot of work,” Cate said on Tuesday. 

“It made me realize how much effort it must have taken the students from Parkland to organize the rally,” said Sutton, who explained that turning 18 recently, thus making him eligible to vote, was his impetus for becoming more politically involved. “I understand the Second Amendment,” he said, “and the right to bear arms, but that there is virtually no regulation for carrying firearms has to change.”

Both students said that being a part of the crowd in Washington was inspiring. “It just blew me away,” said Sutton.

For Cate, who plans to study political science in college, a lightbulb went on, she explained, when she realized that if only two students took the initiative in every high school across the country, they could make a huge difference to the cause.  

“To feel safe is our number one priority,” she said by phone on Tuesday, “and also to let people know, the ones who say that we’re only high schoolers so we don’t matter, that we do matter! We cannot be bullied by people in politics.” The march, she said, was a reminder to the White House of the millions of students who will be eligible to vote not only in the next presidential election but in the midterms, too.

In Sag Harbor, Sinead Murray, a senior at Pierson High School, and Denise O’Malley, a Sag Harbor resident, organized a several hundred-strong march that began at the Long Wharf at the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill at 11 a.m. Sinead gave a rallying speech, urging parents and students to get involved and make their voices heard.

“Support your daughters, your sons, students, your friends, family friends, and get them registered to vote. Nothing will happen until everybody yells.

 . . . If you’re sitting home and you’re not listening, you’re not watching the horrible tragedies that are going on in the news, you’re complicit,” she said.

Tali Friedman, an 18-year-old senior at the Ross School, who attended the Sag Harbor rally, took Sinead’s advice and registered to vote at a table set up near the speakers. Then, she and her younger sister, Ally, marched through town. 

“When we heard there would be a March for Our Lives event in Sag Harbor that would coincide with other events throughout the country, we knew we wanted to be a part of it,” said Tali. “Gun control is a crucial issue that affects everyone’s safety, every day. We won’t be safe until there are stricter laws governing the weapons that can be purchased in our country.”

“It was an amazing feeling standing with so many like-minded people of all ages and marching through Sag Harbor,” said Ally.

Harnessing the youth vote seemed to be the centerpiece of Sinead’s message on Saturday. “You must work, you must get educated, you must make an educated vote. It is not the presidential election of 2020 we’re working toward; we’re working for the midterms. We’re working to get people who want to keep us safe into office, and those who don’t, out,” she told the crowd, which erupted in loud applause. 

“This was different than marching with the masses in D.C.,” said Lindsay Morris, a Sag Harbor resident, and mother of two school-age boys. “We were neighbors and neighborhoods, marching side-by-side as a collective family. I imagine that’s what communities across the country were experiencing and it gives me hope.”

On a grassy patch by the windmill in Sag Harbor, there were 17 white cardboard coffins, each with the name and age of someone who died in the Parkland shooting. Next to them, young children climbed a tree. 

The events around the country prompted a tweet from Barack Obama: “Michelle and I are so inspired by all the young people who made today’s marches happen. Keep at it. You’re leading us forward,” he wrote.

The White House praised the demonstrators for exercising their right to free speech, but President Trump had left Washington that morning for his golf club in Florida. 

Beyond the tweets, hashtags, memes, and celebrity endorsements, it was a galvanizing day, proving that young people everywhere really are marching for their lives.

Lisa Tamburini
At the March for Our Lives in Sag Harbor on Saturday, Sinead Murray, a Pierson High School student who helped organize the event, urged parents and students to make their voices heard.