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March for Our Lives in NYC expects to draw thousands, but planning it is no walk in the park

March for Our Lives NYC will take place on March 24, the same day as the gun control rally in Washington, D.C.

NYC March for Our Lives organizers announced more

NYC March for Our Lives organizers announced more details of the demonstration on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan on Thursday. Photo Credit: Alison Fox

Student organizers of the NYC March for Our Lives event unveiled more details about the demonstration on the steps of City Hall Thursday.

Taking up the call to action from the survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Manhattan march is planned for March 24, the same day that thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in Washington, D.C., to demand that Congress pass tighter gun control laws.

“I’m marching for my family and community in Harlem. I’m marching for my fellow students,” Christopher Lane, an 11-year-old youth leader for the group Guns Down Life Up, said at the City Hall news conference. “We must put a stop to this senselessness.”

An 11 a.m. rally featuring speeches by survivors of gun violence, including a Parkland student, will precede the march, which will start at West 72nd Street and Central Park West. Attendees are being encouraged to arrive at 10 a.m.

Alex Clavering, 26, a Columbia Law School student involved in organizing the march, has said they were inspired by the Parkland students to plan a New York City sister march.

“First and foremost we want to support the students at Parkland who have created this movement,” Clavering said in an interview with amNewYork earlier in March.  

Seventeen people were killed when a gunman opened fire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

In the weeks since the shooting, survivors and family members of the victims have been outspoken in their push for gun control. Among the reform measures they support: a ban on AR-15 assault rifles; increased background checks; and a ban on bump stocks, a piece of equipment that allows a semi-automatic weapon to fire in rapid succession.

“We want a bill in Congress to pass these things that we’re talking about and to listen to what the majority of the American people want in terms of stricter gun laws and gun reform, and not to be beholden to the lobbying groups like the NRA,” Clavering said. “After nothing happened with Sandy Hook [school shooting], this just feels like finally an opportunity to get a bill passed.”

Clavering and a group of roughly 40 people have spent the last few weeks hastily planning an event that now has over 12,000 people attending on Facebook and an additional 25,000 who say they’re interested. Organizers said on Thursday that they expect roughly 30,000 people to attend.

With little experience in planning a large-scale march in the city, the group of student activists enlisted the help and advice of local advocacy groups, including the Women’s March, Moms Demand Action, Guns Down Life Up, Gays Against Guns and Lawyers of Good Government.

“None of us are super familiar with how to make a march like this happen. So they’ve been very, very helpful,” Clavering said. “They’re all saying, ‘how can we help you,’ but they’re pretty hands off.”

A discussion with some of the organizers of the Women’s March in New York City led the group to a startling realization that they were in dire need of funding, according to Clavering. A GoFundMe was set up with a goal of collecting $100,000, which he said was needed for covering the cost of items related to the rally that will precede the march.

“We want to have a rally, so staging costs and sound, which is extremely expensive,” Clavering said, adding that the small window of planning time has been a difficult challenge. “As soon as we got an estimate of what the cost would be, we immediately made the fundraiser.”

The GoFundMe was later revised to a goal of $25,000 and the students have vowed to provide an itemized list of where the money is spent.

Similar to how the Women’s March on Washington spiraled off into satellite marches, March for Our Lives NYC is one of over 500 events related to the gun control rally taking place in D.C.

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