Hundreds of Broome County high school students and their supporters gathered at the March for Our Lives protest in the City of Binghamton on Saturday to demand stricter gun-control laws. The march was part of a nationwide movement led by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 in Parkland, Florida last month.
The protesters, organized by the Broome High School Democrats and the Southern Tier chapter of Citizen Action of New York, marched from Binghamton High School to the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse on Henry Street, stopping for a moment of silence at the American Civic Association Memorial Park to honor the 13 victims of the 2009 shooting.
Attendees of the Binghamton march, one of nearly 750 student-driven “sibling protests” held across the country, included Broome Country Executive Jason Garnar, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. But at this protest, only high school students spoke at the podium.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters also paraded down the streets of Washington, D.C., at the central protest, where the movement’s primary organizers spoke.
Benjamin Reynolds, a senior at Johnson City High School and president of the Broome High School Democrats, said students across Broome County caught wind of the event and came together to demand measures that will increase school safety and lower the risk of a school shooting.
“It was just truly amazing to see how many students really cared and how many students actually will speak up for something when it’s something they care about,” Reynolds said.
Afterward, Reynolds, Rounds-Sorenson and six of their peers called for action at the steps of the Federal Building. Their demands included a ban on high-capacity magazines, comprehensive background checks and increased mental health resources in schools.
Nate Knipsher, a junior at Vestal High School, encouraged attendees to register to vote, contact their representatives about gun control policies and attend future rallies and marches.
“We’re not asking for change anymore,” Knipsher said. “We’re demanding it.”
Garnar said the turnout in Binghamton reflects a national sense of turmoil. According to Garnar, members of his staff will meet with local school superintendents in the coming weeks to discuss improving school safety.
“I don’t think anybody can deny that something’s happened here, in this country, where our kids aren’t safe anymore,” Garnar said. “The frustration level has reached this boiling point where people are fed up.”
The students are planning a protest at the office of Congresswoman Claudia Tenney on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. According to Reynolds, Tenney has received $46,592 in funding from the National Rifle Association during her career. Students are demanding that Tenney refuse to accept any further donations from the organization.