Demonstrators flooded streets across the globe in public protests on Saturday, calling for action against gun violence. Hundreds of thousands of marchers turned out, in the most ambitious show of force yet from a student-driven movement that emerged after the recent massacre at a South Florida high school.
At the main event in Washington, survivors of mass shootings, including the one in Florida, rallied a whooping crowd — “Welcome to the revolution,” said one of the student organizers — and spoke of communities that are disproportionately affected by gun violence. “It is normal to see flowers honoring the lives of black and brown youth that have lost their lives to a bullet,” Edna Chavez, 17, said of her South Los Angeles neighborhood.
The student activists emphasized that they would soon have access to the ballot box as they hope to build support for candidates who support universal background checks and bans on assault-style weapons.
At the rally in Washington, the first speaker was Cameron Kasky, 17, a junior at Stoneman Douglas who last month challenged Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Republican, to stop accepting donations from the National Rifle Association. Mr. Kasky called for universal background checks on gun sales and a ban on assault rifles.
“To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down and stay silent: Wait your turn,” Mr. Kasky said. “Welcome to the revolution.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Patrick Petty had a strong message to his classmates who are pushing for stronger gun control legislation: he does not want his slain sister’s name used to advocate for their agenda. His reason? She wouldn’t have supported their end game.
Petty’s sister, Alaina, was in the Stoneman Douglas JROTC program and was one of three JROTC members who died during the Valentine’s Day massacre. When students on the podium called out the names of each individual victim, claiming that they were marching in their place. They cannot speak on behalf of the victims
Hey @Emma4Change please stop using my sister’s name to push your agenda, she DID NOT and WOULD NOT support it
— Patrick Petty (@Patrickpetty23) March 24, 2018