Standing on the porch with Sherie Miller and her toddler Tramire, who survived a drive-by bullet wound in October, Rev. Scott Marks asked the youth marchers for Love, Jobs and Peace for a moment of silence to remember the many youth killed to gun violence in New Haven. He then asked for a moment of silence for the children who died in the spree shooting in Newtown on December 14.
"There is hope," said Marks, when "young people lead us in a march for justice, for jobs, to have the courage to stand up. Justice is not just for a few. There has to be justice for all."
The youth march from the New Haven Peoples Center to Kensington Street was organized by New Elm City Dream to connect the issue of handgun violence to the need for jobs for youth and everyone.
This was one of two extraordinary Valentine marches against gun violence in Connecticut.
Four days earlier, March for Change attracted 5,500 to the state capitol. The largely suburban crowd came to Hartford on the two-month anniversary of the Newtown killings. Many had never participated in a protest before. Hand-made signs showed anger at the NRA (National Rifle Association) whose president dismissed support for gun safety laws as the post-Newtown "Connecticut effect."
"THIS is the Connecticut effect," said one speaker pointing to the huge crowd, "and we vote."
Organizers hope to "change the conversation, our culture, and our laws." They asked the State Legislature to ban high capacity weapons, require background checks, annual license renewal and safe storage. Speakers and songs emphasized change can be won when people come together and take a stand.
"Let the State of Connecticut become an agent for change for gun safety," declared Veronique Pozner whose son was the youngest to be killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Sen. Chris Murphy's latest report shows that while NRA leadership opposes universal background checks for gun purchasers, 80% of gun owners support this and other "common sense measures to reduce gun violence."
An earlier report revealed the vast sums of money funneled to the NRA from firearms manufacturers, which shapes their lobbying agenda.