NEWBURYPORT — By Sunday morning, 16-year-old Newburyport resident Cade Giordano’s voice was reduced to a hoarse whisper, worn out from a day of chanting against gun violence while on the streets of Boston.
Giordano was one of many young Greater Newburyport residents who flocked to Boston with protest signs in hand, joining thousands of others who marched across the city toward Boston Common to demand gun law reform.
The march against gun violence was one of several held across the country Saturday. It coincided with the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., where thousands of protesters were called to action by those who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff were killed by a gunman in February.
Rallies also took place in other Massachusetts communities, including Ipswich, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Springfield and Worcester. Some, such as Boston’s rally, included voter registration.
“There was no sense of compromise,” Giordano said. “It was about us marching for all of our right to live, not just a few people’s right to live, and it felt like everyone had a say in what’s going on.”
The marches were led by high school students but the crowd ranged from preteens to adults. Since the shooting Feb. 14, survivors from Parkland have led the nation’s young people in holding walkouts to protest gun violence at schools across the United States and demanding that the country’s lawmakers take action.
Eyob Treiser Brown, 13, a student at River Valley Charter School in Newburyport, also attended the march in Boston and said he hopes the united efforts of American youths will help modernize what he considers a set of laws that are very outdated.
“The Second Amendment was established in the 18th century but guns are more advanced now, and I feel like we should have more strict laws,” Treiser Brown said, adding that he felt inspired by the march’s level of cooperation across different youth age groups.
“I feel that the high schoolers are really leading, and I think it’s great the kids who are younger can join on,” Treiser Brown said. “In the march, I saw kids who were younger and older than me, and I think it’s great that this generation can come together.”
Marching alongside Treiser Brown was his River Valley classmate Parker Gay, 12, who said being part of such a massive movement was an empowering experience.
“It felt like I was standing up for the rights of the people who lost their lives,” Gay said.
Amesbury High School student Ursula Siegfried, 16, said the event’s “incredible turnout” and high level of crowd enthusiasm made her feel optimistic that the protesters’ voices will be heard and yield a positive result.
“Obviously, I’m very angry about the situation we’re in, but marching with everyone was very exciting and I was mostly very happy to be there,” she said.
Siegfried said she plans to stay involved in the cause and hopes the event’s momentum will encourage others to communicate with lawmakers and organize marches and rallies.
“I think knowing there are so many people involved in this movement and seeing the thousands of people there, I think that’s going to inspire people to do more, to say more and be more active,” Siegfried said.
Families of some of the 17 Florida school shooting victims flew to Washington, D.C., with the help of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who allowed them to fly on the team’s charter plane. Parkland survivors also addressed the crowd, speaking of their own experiences and advocating for gun control.
Treiser Brown’s sister, Silva Treiser Brown, 16, said hearing firsthand testimonies of the Parkland shooting was a “moving” experience.
“It was inspiring to see students, and it was great to see how they were able to react in a way that’s going to benefit other schools,” Silva Treiser Brown said. “It’s a very relatable thing — it could have easily been my school.”
Also marching Saturday was Newburyport High School student Margaret Dener, 18, who said that as a high school student, she felt closely affected by the recent string of shootings and obligated to raise her voice.
She stressed the importance of keeping gun-related issues in mind during elections, and of staying involved in the cause after the initial emotions spurred by the Parkland shooting wear off.
“I just think people should know that even though the march and the walkout are over, there are still things they can do to stay involved and keep talking about it, and not just let it all fade out,” Dener said.
“We need more people voting for people that make the commitment to change gun laws,” she added, “rather than people that just take money from the NRA and have more of a commitment to guns than kids.”
Staff writer Jack Shea can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.