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Panel From Original Woodstock Stage Will Carry A Message Of Gun Violence Prevention

Peace of Stage Co-Founder Steve Gold

Dozens of Hudson Valley lawmakers and gun violence prevention advocates gathered Thursday to sign a panel from the original 1969 Woodstock stage. As WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne reports, the signing was in support of federal gun reform laws, and the panel will be headed on the road.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America along with state, county and local lawmakers gathered in White Plains in Westchester County to sign a panel from the original 1969 Woodstock stage. Steve Gold had purchased the panels a few years ago. He is co-founder of Peace of Stage — that’s P-E-A-C-E. Gold started amassing signatures during the Woodstock 50th Anniversary weekend in August in Sullivan County. Here’s why.

“I felt there was one thing missing with all the celebrations. That was, there was no social activism part to relate to Woodstock 50,” Gold says. “Woodstock ’69 was a protest against the war in Vietnam; it was a protest against the president.”

He stood with the panel nearby the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, so as not to imbue anniversary events at the center with something political.

“So I came up with the idea of let’s have people sign the original stage panels to present to Congress, to Mitch McConnell, and to demand that Congress and the Senate pass legislation for background checks and red flag laws,” says Gold.

In Congress, the Senate has not acted on a bill expanding background checks. The measure passed with bipartisan support in the House in February. After spending time in Democratic state Senator David Carlucci’s district office in New City, where Gold is a resident, the panel will wind its way to Washington and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Carlucci signed.

“What better symbol than the symbol of peace, love, unity than to unite us behind this ever-present message that we have to get change, we have to change the laws around gun control and make sure that gun safety is a priority,” Carlucci says.

The public is welcome to sign the panel while it stays in Carlucci’s office until around mid-October. Gold will then take it on the road to D.C., stopping in places like Philadelphia. Gold says Michael Lang, who helped organize the original Woodstock and whose attempts at a 50th anniversary concert failed, was among the first to sign the panel. And he recalls 7-year-old twins also signing.

“When the two 7-year-olds signed the stage at Bethel and I asked them why they’re signing it, they said because they want to be safe in school,” Gold says. “That’s heartbreaking that this is what 7-year-olds and younger are thinking about.”

Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, noting New York has enacted gun control measures, signed the panel, as did a number of state assemblymembers from Westchester and Rockland Counties. Westchester County Executive George Latimer also signed Thursday. And something Latimer said stuck with Gold.

“He said, in 1969, 500,000 people on the Woodstock site did not once consider that there may be a terrorist that’s going to come in or a white nationalist or anybody that’s going to come in and start killing people,” Gold says. “So where we’ve gone in 50 years is not good. We’ve gotten worse.”

He estimates there are about 400 signatures on the one panel, front and back. And there is a change.org petition calling on McConnell to awaken the spirit of Woodstock.

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