Dateline July 15, 2023, Newark, NJ

We travel to Newark, NJ to interview members of the Newark Boys and Girls Club

Michael Finan, Rick Weiss

7/15/20232 min read

It was a blistering 93° in the shade when we pulled up to the campus of the Newark Boys and Girls Club to do our first interviews about gun violence in schools for the Will You Hear Me Now? film and our companion site

We’d tried to do a Google search on the B&GC’s annual March for Life which this year incorporated both strong anti-drug and anti-gun violence themes. After all Senator Corey Booker (former mayor of Newark) had attended the club’s march in the past. About 30 kids showed up, ranging in age from around 6-19. They’d made posters and banners and were ready to march.

As we marched around the block, kids chanted “Will You Hear Me Now.” A handful of neighbors came out to cheer them on. After we escaped back indoors, the pizza came and we got volunteers to answer questions about:

  • How safe they felt in school

  • Whether they’d encountered lockdowns or gun violence and

  • What they think adults and lawmakers should be doing to make their school safer.


Some of their answers frankly surprised us. Do you feel safe in school? Yeah, I do. But once we dug down, the kids who felt safe cited armed security guards on every floor, lock-downs, officer monitored discipline rooms, locker searches and metal detectors as the reasons they felt safe. It didn’t take any prompting to find out that though these young people had gotten used to such precautions, they all would have preferred to go to school, be kids and just learn without having to be subjected to major security gauntlets.

One younger man in middle school categorically did not feel safe because his school only had a part-time security guard, no metal detectors etc.… He worried that if a shooting occurred that their lone security guard would not be enough. All these media-savvy kids seemed hyperaware of the potential for gun violence in their schools. Fortunately none had directly encountered violence in school, but all knew somebody (a friend or family member) who had.

A shout of thanks goes out to Steve Gorelick of the New Jersey Film Commission who helped set us up and is a member of the Club’s BOD. Also thanks to Roselle Arenas, staff director of the Newark Boys and Girls Club, for allowing us to participate in their March for Life Day. And PS: Senator Booker, your future constituents are looking to allies like you for leadership on gun safety.

To learn more about “Will You Hear Me Now” send us an email at To contribute funds to help us with post-production and distribution, please visit our GoFundMe and give what you can. To stay on top of our project in real time, check back here often and if you want priority notice of new blog postings email us at and we’ll be sure to keep you up on the latest.

Get in touch