Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Public Advocate Letitia James outside the Omni Berkshire Place Hotel on September 13. | DONNA ACETO
BY DONNA ACETO | In the latest in a series of high-profile demonstrations against major producers and financers of firearms, Gays Against Guns, an advocacy group that emerged in the wake of the June mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, appeared outside the Omni Berkshire Place Hotel, where an investment conference was playing host to James Debney, CEO of Smith & Wesson, a leading manufacturer of firearms and ammunition.
Kirsten John Foy of the National Action Network. | DONNA ACETO
In advance of its September 13 press conference and protest, GAG noted that in a conference call with stock analysts earlier this month, Debney said of the company’s fiscal year first quarter ended July 31, “These are busy and exciting times for our company.” He also said Smith & Wesson looked forward to the “busy buying season coming up that’s almost upon us now.”
Ken Kidd, a GAG member, with a picture of James Debney, CEO of Smith & Wesson. | DONNA ACETO
During that same 90-day period, GAG pointed out, 49 people were shot to death at Pulse and eight police officers were shot to death in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“This is terrorism that we can have control over,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an LGBT synagogue. “We are all responsible for creating the environment in which that trigger can be pulled.”
Kirsten John Foy, a minister who heads up the Brooklyn chapter of the National Action Network, said, “I refuse to have my children walk around with targets on their backs.”
That message was echoed by Public Advocate Letitia James, who said, “No community is immune… How many children have to die? How many police officers have to die?”
After addressing the press outside the Omni, the GAG contingent, which was joined by Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, marched a block to the headquarters of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm, which has $16 million in holdings in Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger, another gun maker. The group had targeted BlackRock in another protest outside its offices a month ago. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler
Protesters in the lobby of BlackRock’s headquarters hold pictures of the the 12 victims shot to death in 2012 in a Colorado movie theater, the youngest of whom was only six. | DONNA ACETO