Students Lead ‘March For Our Lives’ Against Gun Violence

| Resist!

High school students joined hands to lead over a half a million demonstrators in the “March For Our Lives” anti-gun protest on Saturday. They decried gun violence in their schools and criticized the National Rifle Association (NRA) response to mass shootings that have swept the country in recent years. They delivered a message to politicians funded by the gun lobby that they will “never again” let mass shootings happen because of easy access to guns.

“We’re determined–nobody’s backing down,” said Victoria Gonzalez, whose boyfriend Joaquin Oliver was one of the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School. “I think that’s what’s different. We’re not getting discouraged.”

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized “Change the Ref” to empower student leaders./Photo by John Zangas

A massive crowd packed Pennsylvania Ave., forming a sea of people in front of the stage erected for the noon rally. The youth-organized protest drew hundreds of thousands of protesters, and many advocacy groups lent their support, including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Black Lives Matter, CODEPINK: Women For Peace, HipHop Coalition and many others.

Students from MSD High School in Parkland, Fl. were front and center, along with victims of other previous school shootings. Emma Gonzalez–who gained prominence after the Parkland shooting for a searing “we call B.S.” speech–took the stage for exactly 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time the shooting lasted. She named the victims and mesmerized the crowd when, in tears, she let most of the 6 minutes elapse in silence.

Students wearing “Parkway for Parkland” t-shirts came from Parkway High School in north Philadelphia to show solidarity with the Florida students. The Parkway students say gun violence in their communities is epidemic–56% of students have witnessed shootings firsthand, according to a student poll.

The vast numbers and intense feelings pervading the march may signal that an absolutist view of “gun rights”—that the Second Amendment is inviolable and should be allowed to trump students’ safety at school—will no longer be tolerated in the mainstream.

Among the March’s demands are a moratorium on AR-15 assault weapons, a ban on bump stocks and other devices which render guns into fully automatic weapons, mandatory background checks and an increase in the age of eligibility to purchase guns.

All young people were encouraged to register to vote as soon they are able to. Many students emphasized that they will soon be able to vote, and they delivered a stern warning to NRA supporters in Congress: they should be ready to pay a steep political price if they continue to obstruct gun control legislation.

  • AlanMacDonald

    The most powerful thing said during the “March for our Lives”
    was by Cameron Kasky when he simply shouted:

    “Welcome to the Revolution!”

    What the kids need to learn and have the courage to say in
    defining this Revolution, this peaceful “Political Revolution”
    — which Bernie either did not understand or did not have the
    courage to more completely define in a short action sentence with a
    damn ‘OBJECT’ is what the Revolution is ‘Against’ — which is “like
    totally” that the Revolution is against this EMPIRE.

    As I rightly criticized Bernie, about his mere two-word sound-bite
    of a campaign slogan: “Political Revolution” against what,
    Bernie? against What TF, Bernie??

    If the kids have more guts than Bernie, and if they are willing to
    learn and understand the this damn EMPIRE is actually the proximate
    CAUSE of; the “Gun Issue” and the “War Issue” and
    the “Wall Street Looting Issue”, and the “Domestic
    Spying Issue”, and the “Vast Inequality Issue”, and
    the “Racism Issue” —– then, and only then, with the
    kids’ courage and knowledge can we get anything DONE!

    John and Anne (and Kevin) — if we don’t start a peaceful “Political Revolution” against this damn disguised global capitalist EMPIRE BY JUNE — this effin faux-Emperor Trump will light-up the whole Middle East in a WAR the likes of which we have never seen!

    Emperor Trump was shamelessly shilling selling BILLIONS of dollars of weapons to the Saudis in the effin OVAL OFFICE.

    Get real.

    As I shouted to everyone in the March in Portland Maine —- “If we don’t go beyond the little guns that kill little people (students) here, the 10,000s of thousands of really REALLY BIG weapons from the “Merchants of Death”, like Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, Gruman, et al. will be killing millions in the Middle East and we’ll be protesting in June about the next world war!”

    My only protest/marching two-sided sign simply reads:

    “DUMP EMPEROR TRUMP” on the front side, and

    “We can’t be an EMPIRE” on the back side.

  • kevinzeese

    We will not have a revolt against empire by June. Not sure why that deadline but more people are learning and understanding the nature of the United States.

    As to the youth and the March for Our Lives, it is evident from the march this weekend in DC and around the country that the Dems are using the gun issue for their 2018 election to help create the Blue Wave they hope for. These youth have been part of something big and had an excellent organizing experience. Big Democratic Party donors have given hundreds of thousands to their cause, tht is not typical of revolutionary or resistance movements. My hope is that being part of this successful event and related events encourages them be activists on this and many other issues.

    Their rhetoric — the adults did not fix it — could be applied to almost every issue the country faces. The adults to not fix climate change, the wealth divide, never ending war, the cost of college, the debt of most Americans, poverty retirement, a failed healthcare system, unsafe food, destruction of the ocean . . . and on and on. This also applies to the empire issue which is your focus.

    Will they be radicalized to see the system-wide change we need? Or, will they be co-opted into the Democratic Party and be mere reformers, often making things worse rather than better and serving the interests of Wall Street and war which control the Democratic Party?

    For us, one of our jobs is to educate these youth (like we need to do with all people) so they see how the gun issue is one example of many. The 2020s will be a decade when the long list of issues on which the bi-partisan government has failed and made things worse or ignored the problem completely will be so bad they are impossible to ignore. The popular movement is growing and these youth will be in their 20s at a key age to work for transformational change Will they be part of the transformational resistance movement or part of the status quo Democratic Party? How we respond and what we do will be one of the factors that answers that question.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Yes, Kevin, my concern also.

    Jumping out of the Orange monster’s frying pan just to fall into the dollar drenched demos fire is not enough.

    I’ll try to write more as to why the time is short, and also why the greatest focus of the Empire is to continue this god awful scheme of just flipping the parties.

    Best to you both.