Photos by Hansol Hwang
Tens of thousands of marchers gathered in Downtown Los Angeles for the March For Our Lives demonstration, which was a part of hundreds of other March For Our Lives demonstrations that occurred across the nation Saturday on Mar. 23.
Demonstrators assembled near Pershing Square at 9 a.m. and began marching at 10 a.m. toward Grand Park near City Hall, where there were speeches and performances sending a message for gun control.
On the stage at the end of the march route, Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke to the crowd.
“Good morning to our leaders, the students who are here today. They are the ones who are leading the way and we should follow,” Garcetti said. “And thank you to the parents, and the grandparents and the teachers and the friends and the aunts and the uncles who are here today. It is time to protect kids and not protect guns.”
Throughout the march, students’ chants against gun violence and the NRA echoed against the buildings throughout the march route.
“Vote them out.” “No justice, no peace.” “Never again.” “Hey hey NRA, how many kids did you kill today?” “Enough is enough.” “Not one more.” “Not guns, protect the kids.” “More than 17.” “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go.” “What do we want? Gun Control. When do we want it? Now.”
Not only did these chants resonate throughout the city and across the nation, but it also resonated with student Wilder Amato.
“I definitely feel the passion. It resonates with me,” Amato said. “As a student, you feel targeted by all the gun violence. It’s just not a good thing to be around and the fact that everybody is rallying around not having it, I think it will start some change in the future.”
Avery Dehart, a student at California State University, Channel Islands, said there should be more gun control.
“I believe that no 18-year-old should be able to purchase a weapon of war. We also need to have more gun control so we can keep our education safe,” Dehart said. “I should not have to go to school and be afraid to go to school [and] be afraid that I am going to be shot by somebody.”
During Garcetti’s speech, he mentioned movements that occurred in history, fueling the passion that energized marchers.
“We will rise up like in the civil rights movement when students became freedom riders to fight for the rights of everybody. Rise up like 50 years ago in East LA when 22,000 students led walkouts against racist teachers and against the school system that was against them,” Garcetti said.
He added, “This fight is for the most basic of your rights. This is a fight for your lives.”
Maria Galante, a mother of two, is originally from the United Kingdom, where the laws regarding guns are more strict.
For example, handguns and centerfire semi-automatic rifles are prohibited from ownership. Also, the public can only own firearms for hunting or sporting purposes, according to the BBC.
But on the morning of the march she was also reminded of the civil rights marches. This is the third march she has attended at Downtown Los Angeles since the election and hopes the large presence can create change.
“I feel completely inspired because it’s an inspired group of people and I was thinking about this morning, Martin Luther King, when all those marches happened during the civil rights,” Galante said.
At the march, thousands of various signs and posters were carried in the air by demonstrators. One particular sign read, “How many more have to die,” and it was carried by Natalie, a USC alumnus who only gave her first name.
The sign was a mosaic of all the names of school shooting victims who have died since Columbine that was framed to look like an AR-15 rifle.
Other signs read, “Am I next?” “Policy and Change. Gun Reform Now.” “How Many Children Have to Get Shot.” “One child is worth more than all the guns in the world.” “Books not Bullets.” “New School Uniforms.” “It’s time for a revolution.”
In addition to gun control, marchers were also against President Trump’s policy for arming teachers. Teachers from the San Jacinto Unified School district in Riverside County were not in favor of arming themselves with guns.
“No way. No way. We are completely against it. Most teachers that we’re in contact with say absolutely not. We are there to educate,” the teachers said.
Katy, another marcher, also believed guns should not be in the hands of teachers.
“I wanted to send this message. I think the teachers need a lot more than guns. Obviously, they need resources and I would like to keep guns out of the hands of teachers, out of schools and in general,” Katy said.
Apart from the chanting and marching, what marchers hoped to see was change.
“Of course now is the time for change. Any time is the time for change. If there is a problem, it needs a solution. It needs to be fixed. It’s obviously been a huge issue for so long there’s been so many school shootings,” Dehart said. “I don’t want to look at the news one more time and see that another kid got shot.”
In addition to the March For Our Lives movement, a small but vocal group of pro-gun demonstrators supporting the framework of the second amendment were in the midst of the tens of thousands of March For Our Lives demonstrators.
The small group of about a dozen pro-gun demonstrators began in Downtown Los Angeles and moved to the Federal building area in Westwood, according to CBS.
Follow Hansol Hwang on Twitter: @Hansol_HwangLA