<> Capital Region students rally in DC, Albany | The Daily Gazette

Subscriber login

Schenectady News

Capital Region students rally in DC, Albany

Capital Region students rally in DC, Albany

March calls for tougher gun laws; watch the DC rally live
Capital Region students rally in DC, Albany
Schenectady senior Dominique Dunlap, center, with the green hair, in the growing crowd at the March For Our Lives rally.
Photographer: Zachary Matson

Washington 2:20 p.m. — 'Enough is enough. Not again'

During more than two hours of fiery speeches and pop performances, student organizers made it clear they don’t plan to let go of their fight for stricter gun control any time soon./p>

Painting their cause as a righteous battle against corrupt politicians in the pockets of the NRA and greedy gun makers, Parkland survivors and students from communities across the country spoke in a single voice: “Enough is enough. Not again.”

Students from communities threatened by daily gun violence joined Parkland students on stage. Together, in speech after speech, they connected suburban school shooting to urban gun violence. All lost lives are a tragedy, they said.

“Today we say no more,” said a Chicago student. “We are survivors of not only gun violence but of silence... we are the survivors of a lack of resources in our schools.”

They also sent a clear message to politicians and gun lobbyists.

“Our nation’s politics are sick with soulessness,” one student speaker said. “But make no mistake, we are the cure.”

—Zachary Matson

Albany 1:15 p.m. — New York's Capitol filled with songs and speeches

Thousands of people crowded the park outside the state Capitol on Saturday for Albany’s portion of the nationwide March For Our Lives movement.

Though organized by and well attended by students, the crowd spanned all generations, from babies in strollers to grannies in wheelchairs. Those older than 18 outnumbered those younger.

The event was civil but not sedate — speakers drew roars of approval with their denunciations of the National Rifle Association but spoke with reasoned passion more than hatred. The hundreds and hundreds of rally signs followed the same tone.

After hearing from students and activists and politicians, they marched a lap around the Capitol, chanting slogans adapted from other causes.

No counter demonstrators were seen and police presence was limited to traffic control.

—John Cropley

Washington 12 p.m. — Watch the rally live

Washington 11 a.m. — Crowding in

As the official noon start of the rally neared, the crowds grew and students moved closer together.

Moments of relative silence were punctuated with outbursts of chants and screams. 

“NRA go away.” “More pizza less guns.” “More books less bullets.” 

Signs ranged from the basic “Thoughts and prayers are not enough” to the more creative and pointed: “I should be writing my college essay not my will.”

—Zachary Matson

Albany 10:35 a.m. — Beginning with song

Washington 9:58 a.m. — Saratoga doctors say gun violence is a medical crisis

A pair of physicians from Saratoga Springs said gun violence should be treated as a “medical crisis” after happening upon a group of Schenectady students. 

Carolyn Slatch and Martha Dexter drove to DC for the March along with some of their kids. 

“Guns are a big health issue when it comes to domestic violence, it’s a significant problem for suicide,” Slatch said.

Slatch’s 8-year-old son James held a sign that said “Protect children not guns” in well-aligned cursive. 

The Dorothy Nolan second grader said he wanted to ban guns “since guns are bad and they can kill people.”

—Zachary Matson


Washington 8:50 a.m. — Split up for the rally

After arriving, the Schenectady group split into smaller groups to make their way to the rally spot. 

A group of nine students, each holding a sign and many in DC for the first time, found a spot near the event stage in front of the Capitol.

Surrounded by more and more of their peers from around the country, they pointed out favorite turns of phrase and puns.

“You’ve got to believe and you’ve got to do it,” a fifth grade teacher from Michigan told them. “It’s on you.”

—Zachary Matson


Washington 6:50 a.m. — Red-eye arrival in DC

With eyes set squarely on politics and a brewing national student movement, dozens of students from the Capital Region started arriving in the nation’s capital early this morning and are set to march and rally for tougher gun laws.

Ten days after staging walkouts in schools across the region – which saw students leave classes in droves – students from Schenectady, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Mohonasen and other area districts are joining thousands of like-minded peers from across the country.

At a march organized by the survivor’s of last month’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, tens of thousands of American students joined by parents, teachers and other supporters, are expected to take to the streets between the White House and the Capitol. Their demands: tougher gun laws and safer schools.

“We're here to represent not only Schenectady but a large share of the youth to show we aren't going to sit back any more, we are going to stand up to show what's right,” Schenectady senior Trevor Luciani said on the bus ride to DC.

The march’s leaders laid out three political demands ahead of Saturday’s event: ban assault rifles, prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines and strengthening.background checks.

Local students have echoed those demands and promised to continue their efforts in the coming weeks.

Chartered buses full of students and, in smaller numbers, adults left the Schenectady area in the early-morning hours.

The League of Women Voters local chapter helped organize a bus for Schenectady and Niskayuna students, while Mohonasen and Saratoga Springs students raised money online for buses. Within minutes of leaving the parking lot of Home Depot in Schenectady at 1:15 a.m., the bus slipped into relative quiet as students hunkered in for the ride.

Many of the students on their way to the march walked out of school on March 14 – like thousands of other students across the country. While those efforts were in part tacitly condoned by many administrators, other districts responded by raising safety concerns about students leaving the school building and treated walk outs as a violation of codes of conduct. The handful of Mohonasen students who walked out, for instance, were given detentions. Even before those walkouts, though, Mohonasen student Anna Shermafn set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a bus to DC. Around three dozen Mohonasen students, joined by Shaker High School and Ballston Spa students too, arrived in DC this morning.

In the days leading up to the march, students who survived the Florida shooting met with peers from schools in Chicago and Washington to discuss the everyday gun violence that students primarily in communities of colors like those and Schenectady have long been dealing with.

Schenectady students also raised that point in the run up to last week’s walkouts, listing the names of 17 local gun violence victims along with the 17 people killed in the Florida shooting during the Schenectady High School walkout.

—Zachary Matson

View Comments
Hide Comments
0 premium 1 premium 2 premium 3 premium article articles remaining SUBSCRIBE TODAY
Thank you for reading. You have reached your 30-day premium content limit.
Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber or if you are a current print subscriber activate your online access.