On Saturday, March 24, thousands attended the Hartford March For Our Lives event, gathering at the Capital Building to add their voices to the millions of people across the country who are calling for the end of gun violence. Hartford police estimate that over 11,000 people attended the rally at the capital. Among them were Conference Minister the Rev. Kent Siladi, the Rev. Shelly Steakhouse, pastor at First Church of Christ (Center Church) in Hartford, and several other UCC clergy, lay leaders and conference staff.
Below is a reflection from Rev. Stackhouse on the march:
At first, it was all the signs that grabbed me: the creativity, the passion, the candor (several variations on the theme that one expressed as “Maybe if we called a school a uterus we would get some action to keep it safe”). Then, as people gathered together to begin walking, I realized that I had not been at a march with such a crowd of teens before. Joining together walking up hill to the Capitol building, we boomers, gen-X-ers, millennials, and teens all shouted together, “Enough is enough!” “Not one more!” “We call BS.” Then the speeches began, led by Tyler Suarez, nephew of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who died at Sandy Hook school. Tyler was the lead organizer of the Hartford March for our Lives, and he not only told his family’s story of gun violence, but he welcomed people to the podium who had experienced gun violence on the city streets as well as in homes and schools. I have been so struck that at all the marches on Saturday, the students of Parkland, Florida and other young leaders have made an effort to make sure that those whose voices have been ignored from the Black Lives Matter movement, among others, have a voice in this movement. It is a sign of the deep racism at the core of our society that huge marches happen after these killings at a predominantly white school, while the daily killings of black children, women and men get much less attention. Much work remains to be done, and these youth are calling all of us to join them in doing it.
One sign I saw read “It’s not a Moment, it’s a Movement.” Many clergy and lay members of Connecticut churches of various denominations were scattered all through the crowd in Hartford. We have been working on gun violence for some time, but now we are called to be allies, agitators, and companions to some new leaders, both inside and outside our churches. On Saturday, Tyler and others called us to work together to insist that leaders on the state and national level take whatever action they can to help conquer this nation’s idolatry of guns. As we remember Jesus’ torture and violent death, it seems a good time to decide how we will be part of this Movement.