By Jessy Ferrigno
On Dec. 14, 2012, my classmates and I sat under the desks in our art room as an active shooter terrorized the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary School a few miles down the road.
I watched the fearful faces of the eighth graders around me. I watched students get called down to the office to be delivered heartbreaking news. I watched as the lives of my neighbors’ changed forever.
On March 24, 2018, I marched the streets of New York City with 175,000 other people for the March For Our Lives rally with the children of Sandy Hook on my mind.
The March For Our Lives rally was orchestrated by the surviving students of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Florida. Rallies occurred across the nation, but the biggest ones transpired in D.C., Boston, Houston, Minneapolis, Manhattan and Parkland. About 800,000 people attended the rally in D.C., making it the largest single-day protest in the capital.
In New York City, for the first hour and a half, we were packed into the barricades like sardines, waiting for the speeches to end and the march to begin. The body heat from the thousands of people around took away the bite of the wintery air. The atmosphere was thrumming with the energy of the crowd as everyone shifted on their feet and gripped their signs with gloved hands.
Signs passed by depicting bullet holes, rifles and bloody handprints. Some people held signs high above their heads listing the names of the 17 students who perished at the Parkland school massacre. The most common signs read, “Protect Kids, Not Guns!” and “Enough is Enough!” Millennial meme posters were common as well, protesting with humor.
Some people marched silently, stoically slapping their feet against the pavement with their eyes trained ahead of them. Others skipped through the crowd, dancing and laughing in the unity of the pack.
The crowd was deafening, roaring chants at each other. However, when the Trump tower came into view, the yells increased. Half the crowd hurled insults at the tower while the other half begged the building for policy change.
As our feet thundered on the pavement, everyone turned to strangers to talk, discussing Parkland, Sandy Hook, the president and their own reasons for marching.
A photographer marching through the crowd, Mel Rolleri, explained why she was marching.
“I am marching to support sensible gun control in all areas: schools, parks, churches, movie theaters,” she said. “No one needs a 30 round magazine.”
The buzz of excitement did not die down throughout the entire march. The invigorated crowd rolled through the streets with a pride that I have never seen before. A tragedy brought the ralliers together, but they were determined to make sure that this type of tragedy would never occur again.
Opponents of the march screamed from the sidewalk, but they were barely a blip on the marchers’ radar — they were too busy marching toward change.