March for Our Lives returns to DC with message for Congress: ‘You are killing us with your inaction’
Saturday’s rally is set for the National Mall, and will serve as a sequel to the 2018 gathering that saw hundreds of thousands fill D.C.’s Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues for stricter gun control.
The March for Our Lives will take to the streets of the nation’s capital again Saturday afternoon, spurred by recent mass shootings the youth-led group sees as emblematic of a worsening gun violence epidemic — and insufficient action to address it.
Saturday’s rally is set for the National Mall north of the Washington Monument, and will serve as a sequel to the 2018 gathering that saw hundreds of thousands fill D.C.’s Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues for stricter gun control. Four years ago, Parkland, Florida, was the unwilling epicenter of a national tragedy that moved survivors of gun violence to organize.
This time, it’s Uvalde, Texas.
“If we can agree that killing children is unacceptable, then we need to either prevent people intent on killing from getting their hands on the guns they use or stop their intent to kill in the first place,” Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg said in an opinion piece published by Fox News on Friday. “No law is perfect, but if we focus on stopping the process of radicalization to violence, we can reduce gun deaths by half over the next decade. And we need to act now.”
The second March for Our Lives will take place concurrently with hundreds of sister rallies planned across the country. A map on the group’s website showed more than 450 events slated for Saturday afternoon at courthouses, state capitols, public parks, youth centers, malls and schools from coast to coast. Hogg has also called for Americans abroad to demonstrate outside U.S. embassies and consulates.
In the District, family members of Uvalde and Buffalo shooting victims will stand alongside Parkland survivors, members of Congress, educators, social activists and celebrities starting at noon. According to National Park Service permit documents, organizers expect between 50,000 and 100,000 people on the National Mall adjacent to Constitution Avenue and the White House Ellipse. The 2018 march drew an estimated 200,000 attendees.
Among those slated to speak are Cori Bush, Missouri congresswoman and Black Lives Matter activist; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers; and Yolanda King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter. Hogg will also address the crowd along with fellow March for Our Lives co-founder X González.
Rallygoers will hear speeches and watch video reels on gun violence for about two hours before the event’s scheduled end. No actual march is planned according to the event permit, but large parts of downtown D.C. will likely remain shut down through the evening with the annual Capital Pride parade kicking off at 3 p.m. near Logan Circle.
Much like its predecessor, Saturday’s rally picks up from a wave of school walkouts and other student-led actions in the D.C. region. Students Demand Action, the youth wing of the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, encouraged students to walk out of classes in late May and early June to pressure lawmakers.
“We can’t live and die like this. Thoughts and prayers mean nothing from politicians who choose guns over our lives,” it said.
On Monday, high school students donned bulletproof vest covers during a rally against gun violence in view of the U.S. Capitol. People headed to the Mall on Saturday will see thousands of flowers set out in a grid marking deaths attributed to gun violence — the final day of a weeklong memorial resembling a display for COVID-19 victims last summer.
“Right now, we are angry,” March For Our Lives board member Mariah Cooley told The Associated Press. “This will be a demonstration to show that us as Americans, we’re not stopping anytime soon until Congress does their jobs. And if not, we’ll be voting them out.”
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