NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The starting line of the Anti-Gun Violence March was backdropped by a cemetery, a grim reminder of where organizers say too many young people rest after being impacted by violence.
“The last incident that just happened in Tennessee in the schools, it’s a concern,” said Matilda Bonilla, an organizer for the march.
The destination was a stark contrast — a playground, a carefree place of childhood fun.
Bonilla has firsthand experience with the impacts of gun violence. Her son was shot as a child and survived, but her 19-year-old nephew was killed in a shooting in New Haven.
A week after three children and three adults were killed at a Nashville school, student walkouts and marches are happening across the nation, sending a message like Bonilla’s.
“I want to be able to send my children to school and not have to worry about not seeing them again,” Bonilla said. “It just kind of brings everything right back, whether it was 30 years ago or 10 years ago. It’s the fact that it happens, and it’s continuously.”
Marchers, escorted by New Haven police, walked a mile down busy Columbus Avenue. Participants held signs reading “stop gun violence” and chanted in the hopes that their message would not only to gain attention, but touch people’s hearts.
“It’s scary, because you never know what people are going to do,” said Angel Colon, who is in the eighth grade. “A lot of people will do anything these days, especially with gun violence and the Nashville shooting. It’s just sad.”
It was a message that had the support of New Haven officials.
“We need our children to be alive to stay alive and we need those that are doing harm to stop,” said Evelyn Rodriguez, a New Haven alder.
Aside from the Nashville school shooting, Bonilla said she wants to continue marching as the weather warms up and violence on city streets rises.
“If we don’t stay united then what’s going to happen to our new generation, to my grandkids?” Bonilla said.