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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 Saturday, 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, March 15, 2018. Photo Credit: Alison Fox

Thousands of New Yorkers are expected to take up the call to action from the survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, this weekend at the March for Our Lives event in Manhattan.

The march is planned for Saturday, 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 a City Hall news conference detailing plans or the march. “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, said the Parkland students’ activism inspired the 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.  

The Parkland students behind the March for Our Lives in D.C. — Jaclyn Corin, Alex Wind, Emma González, Cameron Kasky and David Hogg — are featured on the cover of Time Magazine’s latest issue, which hits stands Friday.

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 led a renewed nationwide push for new gun control measures. Among the reforms 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.”

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Thursday showed 63 percent of American voters surveyed support the March for Our Lives movement, though 62 percent said they do not believe the marches will be effective in getting new gun legislation passed.

Clavering and a group of roughly 40 people have spent the last several weeks hastily planning an event that now has over 14,000 people attending on Facebook and an additional 26,000 who say they’re interested. Organizers 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.

“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.

The group started a GoFundMe page and raised over $26,400 in less than a month. The organizers vowed to provide an itemized list of where the money is spent.

“This is such a short amount of time, and we’re doing the best that we can,” Clavering said of the trials of organizing a march in the city.

Similar to how the Women’s March on Washington spiraled off into satellite marches, March for Our Lives NYC is one of over 800 events planned worldwide that are related to the gun control rally taking place in D.C.

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