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March For Our Lives

 

A participant holding a sign reminding everyone of Standing Rock and the treatment they received. Instagram photo.

Thousands of protesters traveled to state and national capitals to participate in the "March for Our Lives" rallies to pressure legislators for stricter gun control laws in the U.S.

Local community residents traveled to Washington to participate in the rally: Rachel Garrow and her two daughters Shaina and Kiyah, local activist Steven Thompson-Oakes and several others.

Thompson-Oakes stated, "It was a honor to march along side the brilliant students in the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC. I could see the passion and strength of each and every single one of them. For all of you (Parkland suriviors) to be put through so much loss, hurt and tragedy, then to come out of it with so much resilience, passion and strength, is so inspiring! Older people haven't stepped forward to speak out on this issue. I'm proud of the youth who want to make change for the past generations who couldn't."

Rachel Garrow shared why it was so important to take her daughters to the March.

"We were incredibly thankful to be a part of this historic march because we believe that every student deserves to feel safe at their school. Children are growing up during a time in which gun massacres are a regular part of American life. It's not right. As a mother I wanted to show them that they can make a difference just like the brilliant Parkland students and I wanted them to see how powerful youth can be. They can change the world!"

The March For Our Lives protestors made clear their demands:

- Pass a law to ban the assault weapons;

- Stop the sale of high-capacity magazines;

- Implement laws that require background checks on all gun purchases, including online and at gun shows.

Many at the rallies also called for an end to the influence of the National Rifle Association in politics. As well, many were quoted as saying they are not asking to remove the Second Amendment, but to have stricter laws on purchasing a gun; outlawing high capacity weapons and bump stocks.

The rallies came in the wake of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where a former student killed 17 people with a semi-automatic weapon. Many of the survivors of the shooting in Parkland have become impassioned activists, leading the movement to demand an end to the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. where thoughts and prayers are no longer being accepted.

The main rally was held in Washington D.C., with more than 800 groups marching in cities across the U.S. and internationally: including rallies in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, as well as London, Rome, Madrid, Geneva, Vienna, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Milan, Munich and Tokyo., according to the event's website. Some rallies had as few as 50 protestors and others had up to 500,000 people attending.

During the rally, Stoneman Douglas student and spokesperson David Hogg, used his 'white privilege' to give voice to the many black students who experience gun violence, but have not been heard.

Over 800,000 people, mostly under the age of 20, showed their support in the March For Our Lives held in Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Photo by Steven Thompson-Oakes.

According to NPR, Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg said that was the media's biggest mistake while covering the school's shooting was "not giving black students a voice."

When Stoneman Douglas students took to the stage, Hogg and his classmates included student speakers from Chicago, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles describing how gun violence has affected their home communities.

According to NPR, Naomi Wadler, an elementary school student from Virginia, said she was speaking on behalf of African-American girls "whose stories don't make the front page" of national newspapers.

It took the Stoneman Douglas shooter 6 minutes and 20 seconds to kill 17 students. Stoneman Douglas survivor Emma Gonzales held a moment of silence for 6 minutes and 20 seconds during her speech at the March Four Our Lives rally – the length of Parkland massacre.

Since the 1999 Columbine shooting, 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school.

 

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