Marc McGinness
Paul Wellman

There was quite a scene on Cold Spring Bridge at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The steel span’s spate of suicides has led to pleas from many for a protective barrier to be erected, but this demonstration by anti-barrier advocate Marc McGinness and his friend Douglas Gillies was all about life. Together, they played musical instruments while marching back and forth across the bridge to raise awareness of its beauty.

Marc McGinness and Douglas Gillies play music on controversial suicide span.
Paul Wellman

“We see it as a test case of community values, not only locally but nationally,” said McGinness, no stranger to political theater. “Death is a part of life. We as a society and as a community are likely to react in a death mode, and want to do everything we can to prevent death. We think that there are limits on that-anything doesn’t go.”

As the public leader against the plan for a suicide barrier, McGinness’s actions on Tuesday and Monday – when he walked back and forth across the pedestrian-friendly-but-no-loitering bridge – were designed to bright lightness back to the conversation. He called the musical march the “charge of the light brigade, with the emphasis on light, not brigade.” He explained, “We want to affirm that this bridge is not to blame. It is a place of great beauty and we think that more people in the community value it as such, and not as a place of death.”

Marc McGinness (left) and Douglas Gillies play music on controversial suicide span.
Paul Wellman

McGinness tried not to downplay those who have leaped to their death. “As much as we have sympathy for the families of persons who have died there,,” he said, “it’s best for them and for all of us to move beyond the pain of death and to embrace the beauty of life and not to destroy places of beauty like this one because we have pain about death.”


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