While the uniquely American infatuation with firearms isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, here in the Hudson Valley, as elsewhere, there are plenty of people who are fed up with the notion that the right to own a gun is more important than a student’s right to attend school safely. The St. Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School seems to have been the tipping point for many – not least because the affected students in Parkland, Florida, unlike the surviving children of Sandy Hook Elementary School, were old enough and social-media-savvy enough to start organizing on their own, immediately.
They weren’t on their own for long; the national gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety quickly partnered with the outspoken Stoneman Douglas kids, lending its communications network to help organize rallies around the nation on Saturday, March 24 under the slogan March For Our Lives. At last report, gatherings were planned in at least two dozen states, not to mention ten countries outside the US.
The event follows close on the heels of a national school walkout on March 14.
March for Our Lives Hudson Valley is happening on what has become a favored, highly visible venue for sociopolitical protests in the years since its opening: the Walkway Over the Hudson. New Yorkers against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Black Lives Matter, Move Forward NY, Ulster People for Justice & Democracy, U-Act, March On Hudson Valley and Citizen Action of New York are the local march’s sponsors.
Participants will rally at 11 a.m. on the Poughkeepsie side of the Walkway, accessible at 61 Parker Avenue. The line of march will proceed across the bridge to the Highland side, reverse direction and return to the start point, where there will be speakers, live music – and, undoubtedly, voter registration tables. With a number of gun and bomb threats occurring in local school districts in recent weeks, a large turnout is expected for the event, which should run until about 1 p.m.
Planning to attend? Leave bags, backpacks, alcohol and weapons of any kind at home; even fanny packs will be checked before marchers are allowed onto the bridge. Feel free to bring cardboard signs, but without sticks. Colorful, expressive dress is optional, but a traditional component of political theater. To register, visit http://bit.ly/2pqNXPN.