Click here for video of CeaseFire Paterson’s Sylvia Farrar speaking to TAPinto Paterson following the March.
PATERSON, NJ- A crowd of more than 200 people marched between Cobb Park and the Paterson Public Library on Saturday all carrying one simple message, when it comes to gun violence in their city, and across the US, "enough is enough."
Organized by CeaseFire Paterson, the march coincided with hundreds of others taking place all over the US as calls for legislative action on gun control continues to intensify following the February 14 school shooting in Parkland, FL. that claimed 17 lives.
"Children must be protected at home and in school," Third Councilman, and mayoral candidate, William "Bill" McKoy said as the march paused for a few moments for a prayer just prior to reaching its final destination. When it comes to gun deaths, we can tolerate "no more" he said before urging that federal lawmakers must act to ban assault weapons immediately.
As marchers, including community activists, members of the Paterson Police Department, the JFK High School Marching Band, community groups such as Paterson's Bronze Heat, and others gathered on the steps of the Paterson Library on Broadway as speakers took turns sharing their hopes for Paterson's future, one free of violence that has too often plagued the neighborhoods the march weaved through.
Sounding her trademark positive tone Council President Ruby Cotton said that "we can change this city together." By continuing to "stand together" for the common purpose of improving their city, Cotton continued, "we can do everything we need to do."
Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-35) also joined the marchers and shared her belief that Paterson is "standing on the cusp of a renaissance." After giving a preview of several legislative initiatives she and her colleagues will be considering in the Statehouse on Monday, including limiting the size of gun magazines, preventing domestic abusers of owning firearms, and instituting stronger mental health checks, Sumter suggested they are "doing this for our young people."
"We've watched for too long," Freeholder Assad Ahkter said referencing the lack of strong legislative action to stop the flow of guns into Paterson and other communities all across the US."We have had enough," he shouted to cheers, of lawmakers acting in the interests of the gun lobby instead of families who have lost loved ones at the hands of gun violence.
Saying he came along to the march for the "positive vibes," lifelong Paterson resident Jamal Brown, with his three-year old daughter Sa'Ryah in tow, told TAPinto Paterson that he believed any effort to get guns off the streets is a "good thing." His hope by joining other on a cold Saturday morning, is to be a part of "stopping kids from getting hurt."
"This is how it begins," Police Chief Troy Oswald said motioning out over the crowd. Dismissing talk of past gun violence, or even recent reports that the city has gone 90 days without a gun death, Oswald continued that his focus, along with the men and women that serve under him, is to focus on making the city safer "today, tomorrow, and going forward."