Guns down, voices up,” voices could be heard chanting on Wednesday afternoon outside an East Williamsburg charter school. About 40 people had gathered to protest guns, for the second year in a row, following a shooting last year that wounded three. 

Other chants included “No more silence, End gun violence” and, less colorfully, “What do we want? Change.” 

Organized by the high school and a local activist organization called New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the group used the afternoon school day to march from Williamsburg Charter High School on Varet Street to the nearby Justice Gilbert Ramirez Park, right by the Morgan L stop.  

“You all know we had a shooting in the train not that long ago. I was on my way home on that train and people were mad scared,” a 19-year old senior named Esther Jolly told the crowd. “There’s no reason why, when I was five years old, I had to be around people who were getting shot. And no one is speaking about it. They’re not talking about how children are dying from guns,” she said. 

In an interview, Jolly said “the first interaction I ever had with a shooting was when I was three years old. I was going to an ice cream parlor and they had a shooting there.”

Unsurprisingly, last year’s shooting appeared to be on everyone’s mind. 

“There have been some narratives in the community that because of last year’s incident that the school might not be safe. But I completely disagree. It was an isolated incident and this is a safe school,” said Rodney Guzman Cruz, a school official. 

Karis Thomas, a junior there, said “what happened at my school last year was really traumatizing. I really think that as a youth, I don’t want to feel like I have to worry when I go outside. I just want to be able to be happy, young and free.”

Photos taken by Corrie Aune.

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