On the heels of the national student walkout last week, local kids are keeping the momentum going – with a march in Sag Harbor and trips to Washington DC planned for Saturday.
An organizer of last week’s walkout at East Hampton High School Sutton Lynch explained what spurred him to activism. “The amount of students who joined in the walkout simply surprised me.
Even if it hadn’t made a major impact on this movement, it was an important experience for me and many of my friends.
“After the walkout and the ‘March for our Lives’ what I hope most is that students become inspired to take action in whatever movement they believe in. I knew no matter what I was going to go down to DC for the march, but I also knew, especially for something so involved, it can take some instigation to get others interested. This is why I felt prompted to organize the trip, because I want my classmates to have the same opportunity to join in on something they believe in.”
The EHHS senior reported over the weekend that the bus to DC is full. He said organizing the trip to the march is not something he would usually do.
As a founder of the Pierson High School club, Feminists United, Sinéad Murray has a bit more activism experience. A key speaker at the Sag Harbor Women’s March earlier this year, Murray is working on setting up a “March for our Lives” event to run locally in tandem with the march in DC.
“I’m happy to do it,” she said. “I’m a big fan of local protests. Maybe it won’t be as much of a landmark as in DC, but it’s important to let people know it affects us here. Parkland was one of the safest schools in Florida . . . anything is possible.”
Murray expressed admiration for high school counterparts from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Those kids are awesome,” she said. They’ve kept the conversation and demand for stricter gun laws going since the February 14 shooting. “The conversation hasn’t died down,” Murray observed. “If it dies down, we’re done for.”
As of press time, Murray’s plan set the march for 11 AM on Saturday beginning at the windmill on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.
Saturday’s national protest, the “March for our Lives” will have its landmark gathering in DC, with other cities, including New York, hosting sister marches.
At 10 o’clock last Wednesday morning, students at thousands of schools across the country participated in a national walkout, with the tagline “Enough is Enough.” The goal of the 17–minute demonstration was twofold: to honor the lives lost in the school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and to demand gun control legislation that will keep them safe.
At East Hampton High School hundreds of students walked out, forming a huge and somber circle in the parking lot, some teens holding signs with the names of those whose lives were claimed by the gunman in Florida one month earlier.
School officials refused to allow adults on EHHS grounds, “for safety reasons.” A contingent of adults, including East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, gathered on the side of Long Lane. “I’m here to show support and solidarity with the students of this nation who should be able to go to school without fear, and to impress upon the federal government — especially Congress — to get off the dime,” he said, adding, “I see no reason why a private individual should have military-style weapons in this country.”
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby was also part of the roadside contingent. “I’m here because I care about the safety of kids and I want to be able to go to a concert and not have to worry, to walk into a mall and somebody gets shot. That should not be my concern in a free society.”
With adults prohibited from entering school grounds, the kids came to the street. They formed a circle and stood quietly facing one another. After a moment, they turned to face the adults whose cheers and shouts of support broke the sunny winter’s morning silence.
Carrying a protest sign, 17-year-old Gianna Gregorio knelt facing the street. “The only thing easier to buy than a gun is a GOP candidate,” she quipped. On one side, her placard said, “OK, you’re telling me you can grab your AR-15 fast enough to shoot invaders, but also that it’s child proof?”
On the poster’s other side, Gregorio formed two lists. On one side it said, “What will prevent shootings” and listed better background checks, ending the gun show loophole, banning bump stocks, and preventing domestic abusers owning guns.
In counterpart, the poster offered, “What won’t prevent them: your thoughts and prayers, arming teachers.” Gregorio will vote for the first time this November.
Student Nina Gonzalez explained: “We are here because, just because we live in East Hampton doesn’t mean this can’t happen to us and doesn’t effect us and because we want to stand up for our fellow students. This can’t happen anymore.”
“I think everyone feels very empowered today. We didn’t expect this kind of turnout. Half of our school, maybe,” Julia Short said.
As they formed up for the march back into school, Deb Foster, a former town councilwoman and Springs School teacher hollered after the protestors, “We have hope for the next generation.”