In the wee hours of Saturday morning, East Enders were boarding buses bound for Washington, and heading into New York on the train to take part in March for Our Lives rallies in support of gun control. But for those who couldn’t make it to the big marches, Sag Harbor’s march proved to be a boisterous affair that topped attendance expectations.
In all, more than 1,000 marchers took to the streets in the protest, organized hastily by Pierson High School student Sinéad Murray, who had sharp words for East End Congressman Lee Zeldin, who supports a concealed carry reciprocity bill allowing people who have concealed carry firearms permits in other states to bring their guns to New York.
“As students, we fear for our lives every day walking into school,” said Ms. Murray, speaking from a pickup truck bed next to the windmill at the foot of Long Wharf. “Sag Harbor is not protected and will never be until Lee Zeldin is on his way out the door. Every day he stays in office is another day I walk to school scared. I should not have to be in first period fearing for my life. I should not have to jump at every knock on the door. I should not have to think how fast can I run to the outdoors.”
“People aren’t listening to young people, because we aren’t registered and we don’t vote,” she added. “There’s a table over there to register to vote. They won’t hear us and they won’t listen until we make ourselves heard. The time is up for gun violence. The time is up for congressman and women who are being played by the NRA and are taking stacks of money just to keep us unsafe.”
Next to the windmill were 17 white cardboard coffins, constructed by Ellen Stahl, each adorned with flowers and bearing the names and ages of each of the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14.
East Hampton High School senior Gianna Gregorio shared Ms. Murray’s sentiment.
“We mourn the dead and we protest to keep from joining them,” she said. “Perhaps it couldn’t happen in the Hamptons, in our bubble. But when we graduate we will diffuse into states with loopholes, legal bumpstocks and AR-15s.”
“We fight with our efforts, words and dignity,” she said.
Jackie Hilly, the former director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and a Sag Harbor resident, said that she is concerned that Lee Zeldin’s support for the concealed carry reciprocity bill will erode New York’s tough gun laws.
“Our member of Congress is wholly owned by the NRA. He gets lots of dollars from the NRA and he does their bidding,” she said, describing the concealed carry bill as “literally a nightmare coming to our state.”
As the mass of people wended down the sidewalk from Long Wharf, down Main Street and then back up Main Street, many chanted that “Lee Zeldin’s got to go,” while others simply shouted out that they wanted to feel safe in school. Still others seemed incredulous that they should even need to march for gun control.
“It should be a no brainer,” said one woman as she marched on the last leg back to Long Wharf. “Why do we have to do this?”
Two friends from East Hampton, Marketa Grant, a junior on break from boarding school and Sabrina Ricci, a senior at East Hampton High School, seemed in shock. Ms. Grant held high a sign that read “I Should Be Writing My College Essays, Not My Will.”
“I’m still in high school, and so is my brother,” said Ms. Grant. “Schools have turned from a place of peace and nurturing to a place of terror.”
Ms. Ricci had been planning to head to Washington, D.C., but had to stay close to home to go to work.
“What made me realize the issue was seeing videos taken by the students during the killing in Parkland,” she said. “That really touched my soul. No regular citizen needs an automatic weapon.”
Over by the windmill, young kids played in a cherry tree whose buds were swelling with spring, right beside the 17 white coffins, and four white signs, which read; “1 Gun, “1 Person,” “17 People Gunned Down,” Ar-15.”
Ms. Stahl, who built the coffins, was talking to Christ Episcopal Church Pastor Karen Ann Campbell, who had offered space on the church lawn to reassemble the memorial after the march was over. Ms. Stahl wondered if they should leave the flowers, which would likely die quickly in the cold of early spring. Pastor Campbell said that flowers placed by loved ones in cemeteries die all the time.
Should they leave the signs up?, wondered Ms. Stahl. Of course, said the pastor. Sometimes, she said, we all need to clearly see the truth we are facing.