RESISTANCE WATCH--On Saturday, March 24, an estimated 200,000 plus people attended the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC and throughout the country in rallies and marches coordinated in conjunction with Everytown for Gun Safety. According to Mayor Garcetti, 55,000 participated in downtown Los Angeles. Since the fatal shootings in Parkland, Florida last month, Emma González, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind, and Jaclyn Corin from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become key leaders in a national discussion of gun regulation, as well as in youth activism. The weekend’s marches across the country are a testament to the power these students have to stimulate involvement among their peers.
Activists gathered in Pershing Square Saturday morning and marched toward Grand Park to hear speakers and performers, including survivors from Columbine, Las Vegas, and a Seal Beach hair salon shooting, as well as speakers who described drive-by shootings in their childhood neighborhoods.
The crowd included throngs of young people, from elementary age students with parents to middle school and high school students who congregated in groups. School safety is a personal issue for these young activists.
Fiamma, 12, a student at Lincoln Middle School said, “Kids are dying. Knowing that this happens makes me want to make a difference. What would happen if someone decided to kill one of my friends?”
Her friend Emma, 11, added, “This is silly nonsense. It needs to stop. Even children can see this. Grownups are not doing anything so maybe kids can.”
Susana and Victoria, two students from Immaculate Heart High School, say they were marching to support the Parkland students. Victoria added, “I think enough is enough. We want everyone to hear the message of no more.”
Medical students carried signs about gun violence as a health issue and teachers came out to demonstrate against the threat of gun violence in schools.
The March for Our Lives, as one participant shared, is about the future. Speakers encouraged 16-and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote and 18-year olds to register, as well as to use their social media platforms to encourage peers to bring attention to the cause.
With increased voter turnout and activism, Generation Z is posed to make a difference. They’re just getting started.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a professional writer living in the Los Angeles area. She covers Resistance Watch and other major issues for CityWatch.)