Over 200,000 people participated in the Stoneman Douglas student-lead March for Our Lives protest in Washington, D.C., on Mar. 24, with over 800 other sibling events taking place around the world.
Caused by 18 prior 2018 gun violence incidents at U.S. schools, most significantly the Parkland Florida mass school shooting that killed 17, the estimated total participation across the U.S. was 1.2 million people. Organized by the #NeverAgain organization, started by Parkland shooting survivors Cameron Kasky and Sarah Chadwick, the March for Our Lives occurred over a month after the Stoneman Douglas shooting on Feb 14.
Calling for new gun laws in the U.S., the march had young speakers from Parkland as well as other shooting survivors urge attendees to register to vote in the midterm elections. Protesters made signs that criticized the National Rifle Association, congressmen, and the age of current gun laws. “A sign I saw at the march had ‘18th century laws, 21st century weapons’ on it,” parent Amy Glaizer said.
Every speaker at the march was of high school age or younger, including 10 Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors, Trevon Bosley from Chicago whose brother was shot and killed leaving church, Matthew Soto, brother of Sandy Hook victim Victoria Soto, and Zion Kelly, whose twin brother was shot and killed during an armed robbery. Yolanda Renee King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter, also spoke. “I have a dream that enough is enough,” King said.
Emma González, a Parkland shooting survivor, held four minutes of silence after naming the 17 victims, before announcing that six minutes and 20 seconds had passed during her speech, the same amount of time as the length of the Parkland shooting. “Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds, The shooter has ceased shooting, and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job,” González said.
During the emotional silence, tears rolled down González’s face. Chants from the crowd of “never again” began. “It was a really powerful moment,” sophomore Scotty Collinson said. “It was eerily quiet but it then everyone was yelling. It was triumphant.”
After the demonstration, March for Our Lives released a statement that urged the public to continue to fight for stricter gun laws. “We came together on March 24th and through continued unity, we will save lives,” March for Our Lives said. “We will not stop our advocacy until we see the change we demand – a change that is necessary in order to save innocent lives across our nation.”
Freshman Iman Idrissa said “On March 24, I marched. For all the victims of gun violence, I marched. Because some congressmen and women are turning a blind eye, I marched. And because enough is enough, I marched. Unless there is positive change soon, I will continue to march and march and march.”