CAMBRIDGE — Droves of marchers with signs protesting gun violence strode along both sides of Cambridge’s Main Street Saturday afternoon in conjunction with the national “March for Our Lives.”
Some people carried professionally printed signs, but many more brought their own handmade statements: “Books not bullets,” “I’m a teacher not a sniper,” “Treat guns like we treat cars,” “venison eater against NRA,” “Right to life trumps right to carry high capacity weapons,” “Pro-life? Prove it! Ban assault weapons,” “21st century guns, 18th century laws,” “Grandparents for gun control.”
Marchers started at the traffic light in front of the Cambridge United Presbyterian Church, went west on Main Street to the Union Street intersection, and returned to the Round House Bakery Cafe at Hubbard Hall.
Ages ranged from children in strollers to senior citizens.
Washington County in general is not known for support of stricter gun control, but only two passing motorists expressed displeasure, one by yelling out a pickup truck window and the other by blasting marchers with exhaust as it drove by. Many more drivers honked horns and waved in support.
Mary Scott and her daughter, Catherine Scott, headed the march. Mary Scott, a retired teacher living in Cambridge, was one of the first faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the site where 17 people were killed and 17 more were wounded in a mass shooting on Feb. 14. Catherine graduated from the school.
Mary Scott carried her copy of the school’s first yearbook, published in 1991. The school has always encouraged students to be trailblazers and leaders, she said. Scott quoted Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a journalist for the Miami Herald, as urging people to “commit yourself to a cause longer than your life.”
The Stoneman Douglas students in the forefront of the crusade against gun violence are demonstrating skills they learned at school, Scott said. “Nobody has hired them” to speak out, she said. “It’s just a superlative school.”
“They’re typical students at Stoneman Douglas, just like my classmates,” Catherine Scott added.
The Rev. Paul Baker, a retired Episcopal priest living south of the village, made the sign of the cross over marchers as they passed. “I go much farther than the politics,” Baker said. “If I go armed, it changes the conversation. Jesus never carried.”
Terry Hill attended the march with her daughter, Laura Hill, of Johnsonville.
Terry Hill carried a hand-lettered sign protesting the influence of big money on politics. Government as it’s run now “is not for the people,” she said. “We need a safe environment for people all over.”
Cambridge resident Lorna Mattern said she had considered going to the march in Albany, but “no one would notice if I didn’t go to Albany,” she said. “Cambridge would notice if people didn’t come. The kids are the ones who are going to make a difference.”
Faye Mihuta lives in Saratoga Springs, but there was no march in that city. When she heard Saratoga Spring’s mayor was coming to the Cambridge march, she decided to come too.
“We have had enough of this,” Mihuta said. “When will we come to our senses? I have great admiration and respect for what the kids are doing.”
Sarah Burke, a 10th grade student at Cambridge Central School, participated with a group of her friends. “I need to protest because this is becoming ridiculous,” she said. “This is the first march I’ve been able to go to.” Burke said she also shares her views on social media.
Nancy Krauss, who organized the International Women’s Day march in Cambridge on March 8, also led organizing for this one. She recruited friends and volunteers to help her. The gun violence at schools and elsewhere “is just so horrible,” Krauss said. “I stand with the students of this country and our future voters.”
Like others at the march, Krauss was surprised by its size. “I am amazed by what one person can do and I’m humbled by it,” she said.