What to Know
- March For Our Lives rallies, organized by students and survivors of gun violence, took place March 24 in more than 800 cities worldwide
- New York City's rally kicked off near Central Park and moved down to Midtown
- The rallies call for gun safety legislation in hopes of preventing mass shootings
With calls for action and activism, tens of thousands of people marched near Central Park on Saturday to demand an end to gun violence and mass shootings in schools.
More than 150,000 people flooded the streets as part of the "March For Our Lives," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet. The march coincided with the largest, in Washington, D.C., which hoped to draw half a million people.
Others took place in New Jersey and Connecticut and in more than 800 cities worldwide.
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As the rally began in Central Park, students urged those attending to get involved, saying thoughts and prayers aren't enough.
"There was so much more that could have been done to prevent this," said Meghan Bonner, who shared her story of surviving the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which killed 17 people including one of her friends. "I want to see change."
"I don't want to feel unsafe in school anymore," she told the crowd.
Sam Hendler, another Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, read the names of the victims of the massacre and led a moment of silence.
Speakers also included survivors of the shootings in Las Vegas, which killed 58 people, and Sandy Hook, which killed 20 young children and six adults.
Among those joining the student marchers was Paul McCartney. The former Beatle marched just steps away from where his bandmate, John Lennon, was killed by a gunman in 1980.
Parents and students were united with one theme as they moved down Sixth Avenue, chanting things like "NRA go away" and "books, not bullets."
"We don't want guns in our schools, we want our children to be safe," Joele Lebenson, of Scarsdale, said.
"I'm scared to go to school every day," Talia Lebenson added. "I'm scared that a shooter will come into our school."
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the march showed a spirit and activism from the youth that would triumph over the NRA.
"What this generation is saying is we saw Florida, we understand the facts, and it makes no sense, " Cuomo said. "They're saying: If you won't lead, we will lead."
Cuomo directed the World Trade Center to be lit up in orange Saturday night in honor of the march.
Sen. Chuck Schumer also cheered on the crowd and gave high-fives to those in attendance.
The march also drew counterprotesters. Dozens of people opposed to gun control gathered at Columbus Circle, holding signs that said "Sheep" and "Keep America Armed."
Students have emerged as leaders in the gun control debate since the Feb. 14 shooting. Earlier this month, students led a national walkout that included school faculty and staff.
Saturday's national day of action calls for lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation.
Other rallies took place across the tri-state area, including in Morristown, Jersey City, Newark, Englewood and Hoboken in New Jersey and in Hartford and Enfield in Connecticut.
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Gianna Serro, a senior at North Bergen High School in New Jersey, had traveled to the New York city protest with two classmates.
"We are the mass shooting generation, basically," Serro said. "Me being 18, spending 13 years in the school system, I've been raised with lock-down drills because you never know who's going to come in. I've never known any different. ... I believe it's important because we desperately need a change."
Brandi Powell, 19, there with two friends from New York University, said she had been inspired by the actions of the Parkland students.
"We believe we need to see the end of gun violence," she said. "We think that we should have a policy change to ban bump stocks and to ban assault weapons."