New York Times' Nir Enthuses Over Small Anti-Gun March in Brooklyn: '...Built Up Steam'

January 23rd, 2013 4:53 PM

Former Times nightlife reporter Sarah Maslin Nir covered a modest anti-gun protest march over the Brooklyn Bridge for Tuesday's New York Times Metro section: "Marchers Urging Stricter Gun-Control Laws Take to the Brooklyn Bridge." The text box: "The fatal shootings of loved ones and others compel people to join a demonstration." A generous photo meant the story covered the entire top half of the page. Nir enthusiastically promoted the march on her Twitter feed as she covered it, proclaiming: "Million Mom March against guns built up steam. Now more than 200 marching across Brooklyn Bridge."

(Nir previously caused consternation with a November 2012 story faulting "white gentrifiers" committing the horrible crime of helping poor victims of Hurricane Sandy.) But she had no criticism of what was apparently a far more noble cause -- getting rid of guns.

It was an ice cream cone that brought Joseph Allen from New Jersey to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge on Monday morning, where he was singing a song denouncing violence as he marched with hundreds of other parents and children to demand stricter gun control laws.

Several years ago, Mr. Allen, 46, an emergency room technician, said, he was held up at gunpoint in Brooklyn in the middle of the day by three teenagers while enjoying a cherry-vanilla ice cream cone with his wife.

Notice how "hundreds" of marchers gets whittled to "about 200" later on:

Mr. Allen mounted the bridge for the march, along with a group of about 200 people, by some estimates, drawn together by a social media campaign begun by Shannon Watts, a mother from Zionsville, Ind., who founded One Million Moms for Gun Control after shootings at a Connecticut school. And he admitted that he had not always been against guns.

Protester Joseph Allen, Nir's unofficial spokesman for the march, compared his quest to stop gun violence to Martin Luther King's activism on behalf of civil rights.

As an icy wind picked up across the bridge, the marchers, led by Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, made their way toward Manhattan, to congregate near City Hall. Children waved banners and some of them shouted slogans denouncing groups like the National Rifle Association: “Kids yes! Guns no! N.R.A. has got to go!

I love this song!” shouted Luca Buitoni, 8, as he pushed his brother Giacomo, 5, in a stroller.

Mr. Allen, meanwhile, quietly sang a song he had written about Veronica and waved a homemade placard that listed the names of other shooting victims, from Abraham Lincoln to the rapper Biggie Smalls.


Mr. Allen said he was sure the march would have resonance. The protesters were marching, he pointed out, on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, and on the day of the second swearing-in of the nation’s first black president.

“That’s one of those dreams that came true,” Mr. Allen said. His own, to curtail gun violence, he felt sure, would be realized too.

The day before, Metro reporter James Barron had profiled the founder of One Million Moms for Gun Control, Shannon Watts, in a story also crammed with sentimental appeals and anti-gun propaganda quotes.

“The time has come, just like in the 1980s when the time was right for Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” Ms. Watts said. “We need MADD for gun control.”

Ms. Watts, who said she was a corporate public-relations executive for 15 years and has been “a stay-at-home mom” for the last five, started the group with a Facebook page. By Saturday, more than 31,600 Facebook users had “liked” the group.


“When you see 6- and 7-year-old babies shot 11 times in a classroom, a place we consider a safe haven, that’s a tipping point,” she said. “The N.R.A. outlined how they saw the vision of America. That future is everyone is armed and the bad guys shoot it out with the good guys over our children’s heads. That’s not tenable, and it’s not the American way.”