Heartbroken by gun violence: Rallies across US demand change
WASHINGTON — They came from a place of heartbreak to claim their spot in history: Hundreds of thousands of teenagers and supporters, rallying across the United States for tougher laws to fight gun violence.
The “March for Our Lives” events on Saturday drew massive crowds in cities across the country, marking the largest youth-led protests since the Vietnam War era.
In Washington, D.C., New York City, Denver, Los Angeles and other cities, demonstrators heard from student survivors of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking,” Parkland survivor David Hogg said to roars from protesters packing Pennsylvania Avenue from a stage near the Capitol to a spot many blocks away toward the White House. “We’re going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. We’re going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run, not as politicians but as Americans.
“Because this,” he said, pointing behind him to the Capitol dome, “this is not cutting it.”
The message at the different rallies was consistent, with demonstrators vowing to vote out lawmakers who refuse to take a stand now on gun control.
Many rallies had tables where volunteers helped those 18 or older register to vote while speakers detailed the policies they wanted and the impact gun violence has had on their lives.
The fire alarm at Trenton High School is scary, said 17-year-old Gabrielle James at a march in suburban Detroit.
“We don’t know if it’s an actual drill or if someone’s actually inside the school, going to take your life,” James said at a march in Detroit.
She said government has “extremely failed” to protect students from gun violence and she wants restrictions on automatic weapons.
Some of the young voices were very young. Yolanda Renee King, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter, drew from the civil rights leader’s most famous words in declaring from the Washington, D.C., stage: “I have a dream that enough is enough. That this should be a gun-free world. Period.”
By all appearances — there were no official numbers — Washington’s March for Our Lives rally rivaled the women’s march last year that drew far more than the predicted 300,000.
The National Rifle Association went silent on Twitter as the protests unfolded, in contrast to its reaction to the nationwide school walkouts against gun violence March 14, when it tweeted a photo of an assault rifle and the message “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”
President Donald Trump was in Florida for the weekend and did not weigh in on Twitter either.
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