Yesterday, I attended my first protest and gave myself the added challenge of documenting it. I chose March for Our Lives as I felt inspired by both the message and the messengers. March for Our Lives was organized by students collaborating with the Everytown for Gun Safety, in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Though the rally was targeted at Washington, DC, hundreds of thousands protested around the world, and I attended the raucous showing in NYC.
If I felt inspired merely to attend, the energy surrounding me on Central Park West, where the rally started, was a spiritual groundswell. There were so many people that my time spent photographing hours into the rally only spanned those few blocks along Central Park as the movement was stalled by the organizers and cops handling the surge of the crowd. There were many children attending, some young ones with their parents; others were teenagers who came on a Saturday on their own whim. I found the creativity and urgency expressed in the sign-making particularly moving, and I found the best ones to be like a lightning rod for my focus. Though I only covered the back of the rally, the enthusiasm was no less dampened there.
I sincerely hope this march translates into effective action. Our gun laws are an international embarrassment. This manifesto, published by The Guardian and ostensibly by the Parkland students, is a good goal to start with that ought to have bipartisan support. Ultimately, I’d like us to regulate guns to the point where they are at least as much a burden to own as operating and keeping a car in good standing. I am a firm believer that reducing availability and deterring new ownership in this way can lead to a safer America while still preserving a culture of firearm use for hunting, sport and self-defense.