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Gaining Momentum: March for Our Lives Across the N...

Gaining Momentum: March for Our Lives Across the Nation

“Grieve today, vote in November”

Signs and chants across the country echoed this ideology on March 24, as hundreds of thousands came together to mourn gun violence deaths and bring gun reform to the forefront of the political atmosphere. The day of the March for Our Lives protests was filled with emotion and calls for action, with people ranging from students to retired citizens coming together for the event.

Taking to the streets, parks, state capitols and event spaces, marchers came to protest the current gun laws in America after Nikolas Cruz took a semi-automatic rifle and killed 17 people at his former Florida school, Stoneman Douglas High School, in February.

Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland shooting and one of the students who pushed for March for Our Lives, made a powerful speech at the Washington D.C. event that drew large numbers of people to the nation’s capital. The number has been highly debated, with Digital Design and Imaging Service Inc. said there were about 200,000 protesters while organizers said it was closer to 800,000. In all, there were over 800 sibling marches in the U.S., while other events took place in places like France and Chile to show support for March for Our Lives.

Though most of the march was in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting and was largely inspired by a few of the surviving students who have put themselves in the middle of the debate, their high school is far from the first school shooting to happen in 2018. According to gun law advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, there have already been 33 shootings on school property in nearly four months this year. Many protesters came ready to oppose the high amount of school shootings that have occurred followed by little to no action from political leaders.

Many came in protest of their own individual run-ins with gun violence, or to denounce prominent groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA). Others were teachers, who asked for books and pencils to be given to them rather than guns, like controversial laws about arming teachers so they can protect their classes that were proposed after the Florida shooting. A majority of protesters and organizers of the events, though, were high school students who were tired of the threat of gun violence when they go to school.

DePaul students were able to join the D.C. march for free through Metro Chicago Hillel, an organization that provides a community for Jewish college students in Chicago, which sent two buses and nearly 100 students to the largest March for Our Lives event. Metro Chicago Hillel chose to send students to the event to protest for their beliefs and to “speak out against violence and also advocate for common-sense solutions to stop these massacres from occurring,” according to their trip’s resource guide.

“This idea of waiting for someone else to make something happen… is something that (Metro Chicago Hillel) tries to work against,” said Anna Calamaro, director of engagement for Metro Chicago Hillel. “Rather we see it that there’s a responsibility and obligation to help your community… It’s important in Judaism for us to act and not just be watching these tragedies happen from the outside.”

Each event was filled with chants, marches and speakers all aimed at advocating for gun reform. Organizations spoke on stages across the nation to declare their mission and ask people to join them, politicians made pledges to impose harsher gun laws during their time in office. High school students also took the stage and pleaded with older generations to vote for lawmakers who would follow through on promises that were made that day because they weren’t old enough to ask.

14 East editors and reporters went to different events around the country and had people share why they chose to join in the march.

Illinois

Missouri

Wisconsin

Ohio

Texas

South Carolina

Photo: Francesca Mathewes, 14 East.

Header photo by Madeline Happold.