NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sir Paul McCartney was one of tens of thousands of demonstrators on Saturday who turned out for a New York City march coinciding with the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said 175,000 people took to the streets of Manhattan in support of a movement he said “has just begun.”
Amazing! Final NYC tally: 175,000 joined #MarchForOurLives. And this is a movement that has JUST BEGUN. These students WILL change America!
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 24, 2018
Speaking at the Midtown event were Sam Hendler and Meghan Bonner, two classmates who survived the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last month at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Hendler read the names of the victims and asked the crowd to honor them with a moment of silence.
Meghan Bonner wept as she recalled the day of the shooting. She told demonstrators that she wasn’t surprised when she learned the identity of the shooter because it was obvious something was wrong with him and said there was more that could have been done to stop him.
Sir Paul McCartney takes part in the March for Our Lives Rally near Central Park West in New York on March 24, 2018. (Photo by EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
McCartney said the murder of Beatles bandmate John Lennon was one of the reasons he decided to march.
“One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here, so it’s important to me,” McCartney told CNN.
Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman while returning home to the Dakota apartment building along Central Park West in 1980.
“I think it’s important to note we shouldn’t have to be here marching for our safety,” one student told CBS2’s Reena Roy. “It should be a basic right. The fact that people are prioritizing their right to own a gun over students’ lives is absurd and it needs to stop.”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were among the Democratic Party politicians who joined the march.
“It’s nonsensical to them why their government can’t have common sense reform,” he told CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis. “They know it’s because of the NRA, and fear of the NRA, and what they’re saying is ‘You’re afraid of the NRA? I have something else for you to be afraid of. The people of the United States of America.'”
Former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon, who’s running against Cuomo in the Democratic primary in September, posted a photo on Twitter of herself with family members and others at a subway station on the way to the event.
Gianna Serro, a 12th grade student at North Bergen High School in New Jersey, had travelled to the protest with two classmates.
“We are the mass shooting generation, basically,” Serro said. “Me being 18, spending 13 years in the school system, I’ve been raised with lock-down drills because you never know who’s going to come in. I’ve never known any different. … I believe it’s important because we desperately need a change.”
Brandi Powell, 19, there with two friends from New York University, said she had been inspired by the actions of the Parkland students.
“We believe we need to see the end of gun violence,” she said. “We think that we should have a policy change to ban bump stocks and to ban assault weapons.”
The march along Central Park was one of hundreds of protests planned in cities across America. Students, parents, and concerned citizens showed up in Englewood, New Jersey to show solidarity with the nationwide movement.
“Across our state and our nation, young people made it clear they will no longer accept excuses when it comes to passing commonsense laws that will keep our schools, and, indeed, entire communities, safe from gun violence. They made it clear that they want action, not merely more thoughts and prayers. They made it clear that their lives are more valuable than a passing grade or a political donation from the gun lobby,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “The next generation showed that they will not sit quietly, and that they are ready to lead. Their activism inspires me and reaffirms my commitment to making New Jersey a national leader in passing commonsense gun safety laws.”
Protesters in Englewood, New Jersey show solidarity with nationwide March For Our Lives demonstrations.
Polls indicate that public opinion nationwide may indeed be shifting on an issue that has simmered for generations, and through dozens of mass shootings. A new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that 69 percent of Americans think gun laws in the United States should be tightened. That’s up from 61 percent who said the same in October of 2016 and 55 percent when the AP first asked the question in October of 2013. Overall, 90 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of gun owners now favor stricter gun control laws.
But even with claims of historic social momentum on the issue of gun control, the AP poll also found that nearly half of Americans do not expect elected officials to take action. Among the questions facing march organizers and participants will be how to translate this one-day event, regardless of turnout, into meaningful legislative change.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)