The two year anniversary of the nations second largest modern gun massacre, the Pulse Nightclub shooting, brought together a collection of gun reform groups for a rally in New York City’s Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Tuesday. The Plaza sits between the United Nations building and Donald Trump’s “Trump World Tower.”
The decision to hold the rally and die-in at the Plaza, was not accidental. It was a message to the world that not all American’s are okay with the senseless gun violence in this nation. The other message was to Trump – and that came in the form… of the voter registration forms that the League of Women Voters were handing out.
The groups present at the rally showed the diversity of NYC and those that were victim to gun violence. There was of course the the NYC chapter of March for Our Lives, founded by local high school students, like John Papainer, who spoke to NationofChange about the importance of their registering of voters during the rally that had a majority of attendees under the age of 21. “We will be heard on election day and we will be loud enough for Washington DC to hear us and feel us.”
Gays Against Guns, stood silently wore white veils and held laminated signs with information about people who had been taken from us due to gun violence. Young New Yorker’s from Youth Over Guns and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence spoke passionately about how gun violence effected their lives. Like much of the messaging coming from March for Our Lives the focus on diversity, and understanding that everyone’s interaction with gun violence is different.
Ryan explained his hope for change with a interaction he witnessed at a rally. “There was an event we attended with David Hogg, and a guy came up to him and said “I want to punch you in the face.” And David just stopped, turned around and said, “Why?” And then by the end of that conversation they were hugging. So it just shows if we can make these human connections, if we can actually show this isn’t about politics, it isn’t about partisanship, party lines… any of that, it’s just about humanity and being able to live your life to its fullest. Then we will be able to make a country that we deserve to live in.”
While both of the Parkland shooting survivors were hopeful for a conversation with their fellow citizens, they didn’t necessarily share the same for the President. And it’s not like they haven’t been trying. Ryan explained, “We would love to have this administration actually support us and really help us in our initiatives it would really help many issues this country has had with law enforcement, with urban communities… but so far this administration hardly answers most of our phone calls.” Chris concurred, “If I could say anything to him, it would be, I would love to sit down and talk about these issues and figure out some of the things we can agree upon. But we have reached out but haven’t gotten anything back.”
I noted that this was a bit ironic considering that Trump has just met with Kim Jong-un. Ryan added that it wasn’t just them that he hadn’t met with, saying, “He has met with a North Korean dictator, a murderer, before he has met with James Shaw Jr… the Waffle House hero.”