WESTFIELD, NJ — Protesters gathered outside of Rep. Leonard Lance’s Westfield office Wednesday to rally for gun law reform and to hold a vigil after the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
The Westfield Activist group Westfield 20/20 organizes weekly protests outside of Congressman Lance’s office but, to many, this protest felt different. Attendees included young children, high school students and members from the Union County Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America group.
“It’s really meaningful to have kids and victims take action,” said Westfield 20/20 organizer Marci Kleinberg-Bandelli. “It’s very clear that the NRA is running the country.”
Lance did not address the crowd, but according to one protester he invited some individuals into his office to speak with him.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Sophomore Mathew Skolor spoke during the event, confirming that students from his high school will be participating in a March 14 national walk-out event.
“Enough is enough,” Skolor said.
Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle spoke at the rally and participated afterward in a vigil for the victims of the Florida shooting.
“I have typically avoided any situation that is overly political because I truly wanted to be a mayor that was for everybody in Westfield,” Brindle said. “But we are here tonight for something that’s not political. This is about the safety of our citizens and, most importantly, the safety of our kids.”
Rabbi Douglas Sagal from Westfield’s Temple Emanu-El spoke during the candle light vigil.
“It’s commonly said that children are our future. I don’t believe that that’s the case,” said Rabbi Douglas Sagal from Westfield’s Temple Emanu-El. “I believe that children are our present. Children are our here and now. And if children are our present, then presently we are failing them.”
According to Kleinberg-Bandelli the protest was not about party lines.
“It’s public safety,” she said. “It’s not a Democrat versus Republican issue. It’s a public safety emergency.”