OCEAN CITY — Carrying signs and banners with anti-gun violence messages, hundreds of people marched several blocks on the Boardwalk in solidarity with Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.
The national march was organized by students of the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14. According to the March for Our Lives website, the demonstration was to demand a comprehensive and effective bill in Congress to address gun violence issues within communities and schools.
South Jersey’s “sibling march” was one of 800 Saturday across the United States. Egg Harbor Township High School senior Emily McGrath, 17, organized the local march, which was led by friends and fellow classmates. The event had several speakers, including candidates for New Jersey’s 2nd District seat in Congress, politicians, school board and community members.
Democratic congressional candidates Will Cunningham and Sean Thom both spoke about their stance on gun control and opposition to proposed plans, including one to arm teachers. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo told the crowd six bills in the state Legislature right now call for for stricter gun laws, which he plans to vote to approve.
“I’m proud to say I have an F rating with the NRA,” said Mazzeo, drawing cheers from the crowd.
An impromptu speaker, 12-year-old Cameron Reed Amstel, of Newark, Delaware, spoke to the crowd about his feelings toward ending the threat of gun violence in schools and the change he believes will come. “This generation is an amazing one. This generation is going to fix the broken pieces,” he said.
The multi-generational group walked from 5th Street on the Boardwalk, passing Ocean City High School.
Chrissy and Zachary DeGennaro marched along with the crowd. The mother and son wore orange shirts with written slogans: “This mom has had #ENOUGH” and “protect me, not guns.”
“We’ve had 19 shootings since January first — what’s going to happen in 20 years?” said Zachary, 13, who will be a freshman at Ocean City High School next fall. “If we don’t do anything now, the generations after us are going to be too scared to do anything. So we have to set this up for them.”
“I think it’s amazing,” said Chrissy DeGennaro. “We all need to stick together. I know this is something I would have done in my day, and we need a new generation to take over.”