MORRISTOWN, NJ - The chant “enough is enough” could be heard across Morristown as over 10,000 people participated in the “March For Our Lives Morristown” walk on Saturday March 24. Organized by Bella Bhimani, a sophomore at West Morris Mendham High School, the walk was a non-partisan, student-led march against gun violence.
The Morristown March For Our Lives event coincided with various other marches taking place across the country. Additional marches in New Jersey took place in Asbury Park, Haddon Heights, Jersey City, Hoboken, Newark, Ocean City, Princeton, Red Bank and Union County.
Beginning at Morristown Town Hall, people gathered together, dressed in orange and waving signs. Prior to the beginning of the walk, Mayor Timothy Dougherty addressed the crowd.
“Words cannot describe the feelings I have inside to see so many students here, fighting for their lives,” he said. “No one here is against second amendment rights or your right to own a gun, what we want is national background checks, to close the loopholes in gun sales and other common sense laws.”
Next Bhamani spoke to the crowded about why she chose to organize this event.
“One of my favorite Gandhi quotes is ‘be the change you wish to see in the world,’ and that is why I am up here today,” she said. “We are the ones affected (by gun violence) and we are the only ones who are willing to fix it.”
Students then lead participants through the streets of Morristown and back to Town Hall to hear from a number student speakers.
Nile Birch, a senior at Morristown High School, spoke on behalf of the Melanin Minds club, a club dedicated to educating people about the struggles faced by African Americans and inspiring them to participate in social activism.
“I can understand that it is a constitutional right for people to own a gun, but as I’ve come to realize, there is a lot of gray area in that,” he said. “If people choose to own guns, that is their prerogative, but in no way should their interest threaten the lives of anyone or anything else.”
Darcy Schleifstein a sophomore at Randolph High School was one of the student organizers of today's march. Schleifstein said, "If you told me five weeks ago that I would be standing here helping to lead New Jersey in a movement to stop school shootings, I would have told you that you were crazy. But February 14 when my friend Alex Schacter was killed at Stoneman Douglas, I was devastated. And then I got angry. Nine days after the shooting, my fellow organizers and I spent some time with MSD's David and Lauren Hogg, Harris Jaffee and Ryan and Matt Deitch. As he hugged us, David said, "you go and kick some ass." That is what we are here to do today"
Schleifstein continued, "We are your children." We should not have to watch over our shoulders. We should not have to live in fear that our school will be next. The next Columbine. The next Sandy Hook. The next Stoneman Douglas. But now, as your children are under attack, living in fear in our schools. After the shooting at MSD, I began to fear not if it will happen to my school, but when it will happen to my school. Our legislators refuse to take the action necessary to protect us. To ensure our safety. It is time that they take school shootings seriously."
She said that this issue isn't democrat, republican or racial but a matter of life and death.
March For Our Lives Morristown was sponsored by Blue WaveNJ, Moms Demand Action, The League of Women Voters and NJ11th for Change.
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