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‘Protect kids, not guns!’: March for Our Lives rallies draw thousands in DC, Florida, Nevada, across US

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people rallied in the nation’s capital and around the country Saturday to advocate for stricter gun control laws after a recent spate of mass shootings, including in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in a school, and in Buffalo, New York, where 10 Black people were targeted in a grocery store.

About 40,000 people showed up in D.C., according to organizers, and protests were also planned through the day in major cities including New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. About 300 people showed up to protest in West Melbourne, Florida, and some 400 people marched through Old Town in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The March for Our Lives events come four years after the organization was founded by teens who survived the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. That year, more than 1 million people rallied in Washington.

This time, things must be different, several speakers repeated. They lamented that action was not taken after Sandy Hook or after Marjory Stoneman Douglas to prevent what happened in Uvalde.

At the West Melbourne rally, 8-year-old Addisyn Mayer said she knew the protocol for hiding during a shooting before entering grade school: “I learned to lock the door, turn off the lights and hide in a classroom before I learned to read.”

She added, “What if the kids that are asking for change are the answer to your thoughts and prayers, and you’re just not listening to us?”

March for Our Lives co-founders David Hogg and X Gonzalez, lawmakers and other gun violence survivors are set to speak in Washington. New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined marchers walking across Brooklyn Bridge.

“If our government can’t do anything to stop 19 kids from being killed and slaughtered in their own school, and decapitated, it’s time to change who is in government,” Hogg said.

“Enough is enough,” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser told the crowd.

Gray, cloudy skies and light rain didn’t stop the thousands who showed up in D.C. with ponchos, umbrellas and rain jackets – including several mass shooting survivors who traveled from across the country.

Reese Allen, a 20-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivor, traveled 14 hours from Coral Springs, Florida, with his family.

“I just wanted to be out here to show my support because I was part of one myself,” Allen told USA TODAY. “I know how hard it can be for parents that everyone especially since these are little kids.”

Allen and his mother, Lisa Allen, said the Uvalde shooting – the deadliest elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook, when 20 first graders and six adults were massacred nearly a decade ago in Newtown, Connecticut – motivated them to come back to March for Our Lives.

“We remembered when we came the first time, the support of people from Sandy Hook from other shootings and how much that meant to us. And so that’s why we really thought it was important to come so that the people in Uvalde would know,” Lisa Allen said.

Some who were students during the Parkland shooting are now young adults entering their early careers. Maggy Hier, 21-year-old Baltimore native, hopes to one day be a school teacher. Yet, she is left with fear of a mass shooting in her future classroom.

“I’ve wanted to be an educator my whole life,” Hier said. “I became an educator and I’m now a teacher and I do not want to lose my life in the classroom one day, protecting my children.”


Members of the National Education Association marched to show support for teachers who have lost their lives in mass shootings.

Melissa Stein, a 42-year-old educator at Rosemary Hills Elementary School in Montgomery County, Maryland, said she came to the march out of fear for her students and children. As a mother, Stein said she is horrified at the thought of her daughters in a mass shooting, but also the thought of experiencing one herself as a teacher. 

“I’m kind of done being sad and I’m angry. It’s wrong. Our job is to teach and protect kids and we have to worry about them being killed,” Stein said.

Stein came to the march with her 11-year-old daughter, Madeleine. As a middle school student, Madeleine recalled her class sharing their lifetime goals at the beginning of the year. She then thought of the students killed whose lives were cut short by gun violence.

“Every year [at school] we tell each other about their hopes and dreams and I was so sad because they had a whole life to live,” she said.

The mood in Parkland was angry but determined, with a crowd of about 1,500 people, many wearing blue “March for Our Lives” T-shirts, surrounding speakers and breaking into chants calling for legislative action.

“What we do not need is prayers and thoughts,” said Sarah Lerner, a teacher of English and journalism for the past 20 years at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Two of her students were killed in the 2018 shooting. “A shooting should have not happened at my school, but it also should have stopped at my school.”

In City Plaza in downtown Reno, Nevada, dozens chanted for change during a morning rally.

Sheena Rogers, a mother of five children ages 6 to 16, led the group: “Protect kids,” they chanted, “not guns!”

In Louisville, Kentucky, a crowd of hundreds that took to the downtown streets was joined by elected officials who called for reform.

Gun violence “must stop, and it can stop,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told the crowd. Rep. John Yarmuth touted his “F” grade from the National Rifle Association.

Contributing: Caleb Stultz, Louisville Courier Journal; Finch Walker, Florida Today; Kristin Oh, Reno Gazette Journal; Stephany Matat and Mike Diamond, Palm Beach Post; The Associated Press.



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