U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (both D-NJ) led a gun safety rally at Memorial High School in West New York this morning, calling on their Republican colleagues to support comprehensive background checks and banning military-grade weapons.
Prior to the elected officials speaking, dozens of high school students marched around the building and chanted “no justice, no peace!,” and later “end gun violence, no more silence!”
While at the podium, Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez called for a moment of silence for the victims who were gunned down at a school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th. Their names also scrolled across the digital sign on the front lawn of the facility.
He noted that schools should be a safe haven for our children, which hasn’t always been the case in recent memory.
“It is our duty to ensure that our youth have a safe place to play and grow. Now schools across this great nation have always been that place: until now. We must do better now,” Rodriguez stated.
In a similar vein, Menendez said that it was time to take action that goes beyond offering thoughts and prayers and implementing legislation that keeps automatic weapons out of our schools, work places, supermarkets, and houses of worship.
During the tail end of his remarks, Menendez became choked up when recalling what a sign outside Robb Elementary in Uvalde says.
“Outside of Robb Elementary in Uvalde there’s a sign: it says ‘welcome’ and then underneath it it says ‘bienvenidos.’ As I had thought about what to say today, this image has haunted me in my brain. That bilingual sign, alongside with the images of little kids holding honor roll certificates,” Menendez said before taking a long pause.
“Honor roll certificates that they earned at the end of the school year was, for me, the starkest reminder of what this means for a tight knit Latino community,” he continued, also pointing out that he has three granddaughters and that gun violence again broke out at a Tulsa hospital and a Walmart in Pennsylvania last night.
As for Booker, who spoke about Alice Paul and her long, arduous fight to give women the right to vote. While that battle at times seems unwinnable, and even resulted in her being arrested at one point before she was triumphant.
He said that the push for gun safety could be a similar situation and can only be one if everyone comes together, continuing that the issue isn’t “right versus left, but right versus wrong.”
“We all together, collectively, these young people leading us today, say ‘I am up for the struggle! I will fight to defend my nation! I will stand for domestic tranquility!,” Booker exclaimed.
“I will stand for justice, for freedom from fear and gun violence and murder: we can achieve that in America, this is our country, let us change it’s destiny now and commit ourselves to doing what is necessary!”
Nicole Alzamora, a Moms Demand Action volunteer and a Jersey City Public School teacher, recounted that when one of her students called his mother during the December 10th, 2019 domestic terrorism incident and said “we’re going to die.”
To that end, she said she has been involved with far too many lockdowns and, like many of her colleagues, is worried about when the next incident will be deadly.
“I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of seeing dead children and teachers die because we have cowards in the Senate that refuse to stand up the NRA,” she said to loud applause and cheers.
“Cowards that have the audacity to show up to an NRA convention in light of the deaths of 21 innocent lives, but yet won’t let guns inside their own convention.”
She also said that the notion that the 2nd Amendment is in danger is disingenuous, since no one is talking about legislation that would repeal the right to bear arms completely.
New Jersey Education Association President Sean Spiller, also the Montclair mayor, Memorial High School teacher Francisca Sanchez, and Memorial High School sophomore Bradley Manso also addressed the crowd.