Marching 21 blocks for 21 victims of gun violence
Residents of Queens lined the 34th Ave Open Street in Jackson Heights this past weekend, angered over gun violence that led to the death of two adults and 19 children in Uvalde, Texas.
The rally-goers marched 21 blocks for the 21 victims, saying a victim’s name out loud after every block walked, and passing by seven city public schools that also line 34th Avenue.
City Councilman Shekar Krishnan said he was sickened and turned nauseous upon hearing the news last Tuesday, as an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 third and fourth grade students in their classroom at Robb Elementary School.
“I know that so many of us here, as parents, neighbors and grandparents, are absolutely angry and fed up with what is happening in this country,” Krishnan said. “This is an utter embarrassment to the rest of the world that our elected leadership does not have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby, to stand up to the NRA, to protect our children and our teachers.”
Krishnan, a parent of two young children, noted that only in America does this level of senseless gun violence seem to happen. Just months before the 10 year mark of Sandy Hook, where 20 school-aged children died by gunfire, parents and their young children plead for action at the federal level to curb gun violence.
Moe Chan, a parent from Elmhurst, pushed one of his two children in a stroller among the pack of marchers. He says he felt numb when hearing the news last week, knowing that kids have been shot and killed in their own classroom before, with little legislative action following it.
“This is beyond horrendous. These leaders are not responsible enough, that’s why we’re out here with our kids,” Chan said. “We don’t know what’s going to come next. It could be in our town, our city, at their school. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. But we want them to be aware of what’s going on.”
Krishnan, along with parents, were visibly upset when details emerged about the timeline of events, with up to 19 police officers in the school’s hallway for over 40 minutes before Border Patrol agents breached the classroom and took out the shooter.
“Especially as more and more stories come forward of what happened in Texas and what was not done by our law enforcement to protect and save the lives of our children,” Krishnan said. “We are failing. We are failing our children.”
Krishnan was also upset that it took a number of mass shooting events for the State of New York to finally consider raising the age on buying the same kind of rifle used in both Sandy Hook and Uvalde, the AR-15.
It would be just days after the latest mass shooting in Uvalde when Governor Kathy Hochul said that she would like to propose legislation to raise the legal purchasing age of an assault rifle to 21.
However, Krishnan was hesitant to say that would change anything.
“How is it possible that only now after Texas are we talking at the state level about raising the age on buying an AR-15, from 18 to 21?,” Krishnan said. “That’s not going to solve anything either. But how is it possible that only now has that conversation started?”
Jackson Heights residents Rich and Candi Lindeman, both in their late 70’s, put on their sneakers and joined the Saturday morning march
The retirees have an American flag hanging on their door, but after hearing about the shooting, have been considering hanging it upside down, to signal distress, according to the U.S. Flag Code.
“We’re sick and tired of Republicans who don’t care,” Rich Lindeman said. “They don’t want to do anything.”
His wife continued, “They just want their position in the job.”
“My husband tells me to calm down, or I’m going to have a heart attack, but it makes you angry,” Candi Lindeman added. “We are in distress, and nothing is being done.”
The couple says they have only turned their American flag upside down only once before, they say, which was after learning the results of the 2016 Presidential election.
“The children are dying and nobody seems to care,” she said.