March for Our Lives calls for gun reform in America

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of the nation’s capital Saturday in support of the youth-led gun reform movement.

The March for Our Lives called on lawmakers to address gun violence and school shootings. The march was organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 14 students and 3 teachers last month.

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Amal and George Clooney and Stephen Spielberg donated to the cause, but it is the Stoneman Douglas students who have championed discussions and pressed for congressional action on gun control.

Cameron Kasky, a Stoneman Douglas junior, welcomed the Washington crowd and leaders, skeptics and cynics to the “revolution,” as he stood in the shadow of the capital, flanked by his peers.

“Either represent the people or get out… stand for us or beware. The voters are coming,” Kasky cautioned to lawmakers.

The march was a harmony of voices demanding what they called common-sense gun laws.

Marsha McBride, a grandmother and self-proclaimed life-long social activist from Washington D.C., held up a “ban AR-15” poster in a crowd on Pennsylvania Ave and demanded gun control.

“I want it for my two grandsons, so they can go to school without being afraid,” McBride said.

A mother from Maryland, Virginia Martinez, said that everyone should be standing up for the survivors of gun violence. She reflected on the day’s demonstration and said, “I think there’s power in unity and strength in numbers, so I’m hopeful.”

Maizie Ober and Maddy Smith, both freshman at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, chanted “never again” with a crowd of students. Both said they think the march will instigate change on the local level.

“We don’t think regular civilians should have these semi-automatic assault rifles,” Ober said.

Emma Gonzalez, a Stoneman Douglas senior, moved many in the crowd gathered in Washington with her speech. She retold the story of the Parkland shooting and stood in silence for several minutes with tears in her eyes to memorialize the victims.

“Fight for your lives, before it’s someone else’s job,” Gonzalez said before leaving the stage.

The event featured several other young speakers– Edna Chavez, a South Los Angeles resident, recalled the day her brother was killed; David Hogg, a Stoneman Douglas senior, called on Americans to vote and pressure lawmakers to take action; and 11-year-old Naomi Wadler, spoke about the African American girls and women who have been victims of gun violence.

Yolanda King, the granddaughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., invoked the crowd to imagine a gun-free world and asked the crowd to repeat the following words: “Spread the word! Have you heard? All across the nation, we are going to be a great generation!”

Although there were no official police estimates of its size, Metrorail reported approximately 334,000 rides were taken as of 4 p.m March 24. The Women’s March last year clocked 597,000 trips by the same time of day.

The March for Our Lives website put attendance as high as 850,000, while Digital Design & Imaging Service (DDIS) estimated a much smaller crowd size at about 200,000 people.

Though Washington hosted the main march, more than 800 marches were held across the globe, on every continent except for Antartica.