Less than six weeks since a disturbed former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland gunned down 14 of his former colleagues and three teachers, the survivors have taken their case against guns and the gun lobby to the world via March for Our Lives.
Arguably, this is the single biggest protest event in fifty years, since students of a different vintage agitated against military action in Southeast Asia.
The main march is in D.C.; however, there are 800 marches around the world. Today we have attempted to bring you the flavor, via a live blog, of just some of what goes down — with a particular focus on Florida principals.
The overwhelming theme of rally speakers: determined legislative action, ensuring that the NRA and allied politicians do not continue to drive the agenda on gun legislation.
Newest material will be at the top of this post.
14:33: MSD student Emma Gonzalez addressed the crowd, describing with specific details all of the things that would never happen again after the shooting, for the 17 whose lives were lost.
After she spoke, she held back sobs, silence in the crowd giving way to murmurs and applause, then a Never Again chant, first isolated then taking up by thousands, before it faded back into silence and murmurs.
“Since the time I have come out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds,” Gonzalez said, an alarm going off.
In that time on Feb. 14, she added, the shooting stopped in Parkland and the shooter blended into the crowd for an hour and a half.
Gonzalez left the stage; a choir returned, and singer Jennifer Hudson sang lead. The rally speakers came out to stand behind Hudson, as she sang of “change.”
13:57: MSD student Samantha Fuentes read a poem called “Enough.”
An excerpt: “Regardless of how much money you pay, or how much you pray, if you don’t do something today, your children won’t stay.”
She closed her poem by vomiting.
“I just threw up on international television, and it feels great,” Fuentes said.
Just after this happened, we got a statement from Sen. Marco Rubio regarding the protests.
“I commend those who today are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to march in favor of a gun ban. While I do not agree with all of the solutions they propose, I respect their views and recognize that many Americans support certain gun bans. However, many other Americans do not support a gun ban. They too want to prevent mass shootings, but view banning guns as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens that ultimately will not prevent these tragedies.
“While protests are a legitimate way of making a point, in our system of government, making a change requires finding common ground with those who hold opposing views. Common ground is how we were able to achieve the STOP School Violence Act, improvements to our background check system, propelling CDC studies on gun violence and now, a ban on bump stocks. And finding common ground is what it will take to pass our red flag law so we can take guns away from dangerous people.”
13:36: MSD student Jaclyn Corin: “We openly recognize that we are privileged individuals and would not have received the attention we did today without the affluence of our city.”
Corin devoted her remarks to intersectionality with demographics and communities more traditionally impacted by gun violence.
“We need each and every one of you to be screaming at your Congressman. Don’t be scared because you see Senator before his name,” Corin said, urging pressure during the Congressional recess.
“Have them hear you out because they work for us,” Corin said. “We cannot keep America great if you can’t keep America safe!”
“Our First Amendment right is our weapon of war in this,” Corin added.
13:06: MSD student David Hogg likewise spotlighted the $1.05 per student “price tag” for Marco Rubio.
“If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking … inaction is no longer safe. We say ‘no more’! We’re going to make this the voting issue … every election, every state, every city,” Hogg said.
“When people try to suppress your vote … when politicians say your voice doesn’t matter because the NRA owns them … when they send thoughts and prayers, we say no more,” Hogg continued, urging NRA-friendly pols to “get your resumes ready.”
12:52: MSD junior Alex Wind notes that no gun legislation has been passed since 2008 on the federal level, even as 95 mass shootings have happened since.
“To those people who tell us that teenagers can’t do anything, I say that teenagers are the only people who could make this movement possible,” Wind said, urging for gun control and arguing against hardening measures that make public spaces ranging from schools to movie theaters “more like prisons.”
“There are over 250 representatives who have not taken a public stance on this issue. It’s our job to call them up,” Wind said, and force them to take a stand.
“To all the politicians out there,” Wind added, “if you have taken money from the NRA, you choose death.”
“We choose life,” Wind continued.
12:41: MSD student Sarah Chadwick brings up Marco Rubio‘s NRA support.
“It comes out to $1.05 for every student,” Chadwick said of the $3,303,355 Rubio has gotten from the gun lobby.
“We are fighting, we have been fighting … we will continue to fight,” Chadwick said. “We will not be treated like a statistic in this country. We’re going to put an end to those statistics. We will never stop fighting,” Chadwick said.
Rubio’s tweet, as the rally began, likely won’t be seen as responsive to Chadwick’s concerns.
Today many are peacefully exercising their #1A right to march for gun ban. Many support gun ban. But many others see it as infringement of #2A that won’t prevent shootings. Protest is good way of making a point,but making a change will require both sides finding common ground
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 24, 2018
12:29: Delaney Tarr, an MSD student: “I’m not here for the media … I’m here for my 17 fellow Eagles who are dead because of gunfire.”
“This is not a mere publicity stunt,” Tarr said. “This is a movement relying on the persistence and passion of our people.”
“If we move on, the NRA and forces aligned will win,” Tarr added, “we cannot and will not let that happen.”
“If they continue to ignore us … we will take action every day in every way until they simply cannot ignore us anymore.”
12:21: Cameron Kasky kicks off the event with “Welcome to the revolution.”
“We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been born into and create a better world for generations to come,” said the Parkland student. “Don’t worry we’ve got this.”
“Shooting after shooting, the people see the one thing in common — the weapons … the voters are coming,” Kasky said.
12:17: Sen. Bill Nelson in attendance.
— Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) March 24, 2018
12:13: From Dublin, a rally of solidarity.
— Andrew Lowth (@AndrewLowth1) March 24, 2018
12:10: The speaking portion of the D.C. rally begins with “Rise Up,” a song from Andra Day,
12:08: A statement from the White House takes the high road and emphasizes the bump stock ban:
“We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today. Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the President’s, which is why he urged Congress to pass the Fix NICS and STOP School Violence Acts, and signed them into law. Additionally, on Friday, the Department of Justice issued the rule to ban bump stocks following through on the President’s commitment to ban devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.”
11:38: In Houston, a crowd chants outside of Sen. Ted Cruz‘s office.
— Lincoln Dow (@lincolndow) March 24, 2018
11:33: Parkland’s Emma Gonzalez on MSNBC, who has been one of the most visible MSD students: “I don’t think any of us are heroes. We just kept the door open so people could speak … I want a really large voter registration turnout to come from here.”
“We’re so psyched. This is the coolest thing that could have happened,” Gonzalez said regarding the marches around the world.
Gonzalez will speak at the D.C. rally, along with 19 other kids who have been affected by gun violence.
11:30: The scene from Cleveland.
— Sean C. Imbroglio, from Franklin County (@SeanForgotAgain) March 24, 2018
11:24: Huge crowds building in New York City.
— Steven Feder (@StevenFeder1) March 24, 2018
11:22: Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, running for Congress in Florida’s 5th Congressional District:
We won’t wait for the next tragedy. Congress must take action on common sense gun legislation. #MarchForOurLives
— Alvin Brown (@Alvin4Congress) March 24, 2018
11:21: The scene from Tallahassee.
More and more people gathering here at Westcott. Handfuls of people are in the shade, sitting on the grass or benches waiting for the #MarchforOurLives to get moving to the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/VgunO18LWq
— Ashley White (@AshleyyDi) March 24, 2018
10:16 Central Time: Even in deep-red Pensacola, crowds are building.
— LWV P'cola (@LWVPensacolaBay) March 24, 2018
11:14: The scene from Jacksonville, one of many marches in Florida alone.
— Zackary Moran (@zacskye) March 24, 2018
11:06: Rep. Stephanie Murphy told MSNBC that she sees the agitation of gun control as “different this time,” with activism leading the legislation.
“I’m proud to say on Friday the President signed into law the effective end of the gun violence research ban,” regarding a bill she has pushed since coming to Congress.
Murphy spoke in favor of bi-partisan work on the “red flag” bill introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.
She also expressed optimism that “people aren’t going to stand for lawmakers who are in the pockets of corporate gun manufacturers anymore” when asked if the House may consider gun control.
“I didn’t have a single Republican who wanted the facts until after Parkland … then they were on board,” Murphy said about her gun violence research ban bill.
For Murphy, whose Congressional campaign was in part in the shadow of the Pulse massacre, there clearly are tangible steps toward changing modalities in legislatures on gun control.
11:04: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, a Democrat running for Governor, tweeted this morning on the event.
Today we're marching for the 17 in Parkland. We're marching for the 49 at Pulse. We're marching for our lives and our children's lives, and in honor of every life lost to senseless gun violence. It’s time we turn our #OutrageToAction! #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/007EHGTgLV
— Mayor Philip Levine (@MayorLevine) March 24, 2018
10:57: Democratic Attorney General hopeful Sean Shaw weighed in via tweet.
— Sean Shaw (@SShawFL) March 24, 2018
10:40: Rep. Ted Deutch, on MSNBC, called the march “incredibly powerful.”
“This is now a defining issue for this generation. This is turning a lot of students into political activists, and they will not rest [until gun laws change],” said the Democratic Congressman who represents Parkland.
10:36: Gov. Rick Scott is not participating in any of the marches; however, he did tweet out the press release on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act this morning.
Proud of what we accomplished in Florida to make our schools safer. The students and parents who made their voices heard made a difference: https://t.co/fArsC6OJ4U
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) March 24, 2018