By Alex Reyes
20 pairs of small rain boots and shoes lined the stage at Justin Herman Plaza on Dec. 22 in tribute to the children who were murdered eight days earlier at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The shoes were placed there by four Bay Area chapters of the California Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which also coordinated a silent “Lie-in” protest for stricter gun laws in remembrance of the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook.
The shooter in Newton, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed his mother and himself, bringing the total to 28 deaths.
Amid an ice rink full of skaters and passing shoppers and tourists, the protest was a somber reminder of the families in Connecticut who will be hard-pressed to celebrate the current holiday season.
“We’re here to urge our politicians to pass common-sense gun control legislation,” Brady Campaign San Francisco chapter coordinator Mindy Finkelstein said.
Finkelstein, who was 16 at the time, was one of five people shot in 1999 at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, Calif.
At Justin Herman Plaza, twenty-six protesters each held a sign listing the name of a Sandy Hook victim.
Karen Arntzen, Brady Campaign California chapter coordinator, called out the name of the first victim. She a rang a bell once as the demonstrator with the first victim’s name walked across the stage, stopped in front of one pair of shoes and laid down.
As the protesters lay silent, Arntzen read the names of those killed in twelve other shootings that occurred in the past two years, including the Aurora, Colo., movie theater, Virginia Tech University and the Tucson shopping mall where six people died and thirteen others were wounded, including U.S. congresswoman Gabby Gifford.
Arntzen said the San Francisco lie-in is the second event Brady Campaign state chapters have held since Dec. 14. Another event is planned on Jan 8 in Sacramento.
Finkelstein said she has received “floods of emails” since the Dec. 14 shooting.
“[We’ve been] absolutely inundated with people asking what they can do,” Arntzen said.
Finkelstein said the Brady Campaign normally gets a higher rate of calls after a mass shooting but that the current response has been higher than normal and urged those interested in joining the Brady Campaign to visit wearebetterthanthis.org.