NEW YORK — A sea of young fists raised into the clear sky capped an anti-gun rally in a Manhattan park Friday as students lifted their angry voices on the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.
Several hundred youths gathered at noon in downtown Washington Square Park, chanting "the NRA has got to go!"
They joined nationwide school walkouts on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting that left 13 dead and more than two months after 17 were killed at the high school in Parkland, Florida.
"Nineteen years ago, we all thought something must and will change so that other communities would not have to endure such grief, fear and life-altering trauma," said Amalia Fernand, who was a senior at Columbine during the attack. "Unfortunately and incomprehensibly, the change has been so much further in the opposite direction than any of us could have ever imagined."
Jonathan Green, a sophomore at New York's LaGuardia High School, noted that since Columbine, there have been dozens of mass shootings in the United States — in schools and churches and concerts and movie theaters.
"And after every shooting, politicians tell us, now is not the time, send their thoughts and prayers and then drop the issue after a week," Green said.
Fernand said that Columbine students did not have the benefit of social media that now fuels the youthful protest movement, which Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, called "the most successful protest in the history of America."
She told the roaring gathering why.
"It is your voices, it is your passion, it is your pain, it is your truth to power that is going to make the difference," she said. "You are holding Congress accountable. You are calling B.S. every time they say they can't change the law."
In upstate Albany, students participated in a 13-minute lie-down outside the New York state capitol — one minute for each person who died in the Columbine school shooting.