The Latest: “March for Our Lives” rallies draw huge crowds
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on student-led protests against gun violence (all times Eastern Daylight Time):
A contingent of survivors of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting is among the thousands of marchers at a gun control rally in Denver.
Students and their supporters packed into Civic Center Park near the state Capitol for a rally Saturday afternoon before spilling out onto streets through downtown. They held signs like “The Second Amendment Needs Amending” and “Prayers are Not Enough.”
Sixteen-year-old Columbine student Kalli Honeycutt, says her mother, who survived that shooting, has drilled it into her head to always be on the lookout.
Honeycutt said she is demonstrating because she wants lawmakers to make it harder for people to get guns and cause tragedies like school shootings.
Survivors of last month’s Florida school shooting have described themselves as the “mass-shooting generation,” noting that they were born after the Columbine shooting.
High school students led thousands of protesters in Seattle on Saturday, part of a nation-wide youth movement demanding tighter gun regulation in the wake of a Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead.
Students held signs reading “Not One More” and chanted “Right now, right here, we refuse to live in fear.” Teachers protested President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm some of them in order to protect students from potential attackers.
Much of the protest was directed at the National Rifle Association.
“I want to know that they care more about lives than profit, the NRA,” said Naa’Rai Taison, a 19-year-old student at Cornish College of the Arts. “We can still hold on to our traditions without having to lose lives.”
Similar “March for Our Lives” events were held at other cities across the country Saturday by demonstrators spurred to action in the wake of school shootings and other gun violence.
Dueling rallies were held at the same time in Helena, Montana, by gun-control and gun-rights advocates.
At the gun-control rally, two teen sisters who helped organize the protest said they felt hope for the first time after the Parkland, Florida shooting survivors advocated for change.
“Finally, somebody was doing something about it, except it wasn’t who you’d expect — it was us,” Mariah Thomas, 17, said to cheers. “It was students my own age who decided they wanted to put an end to gun violence.”
Across town outside the Montana Capitol, a smaller crowd of gun-rights advocates swore that no outsiders would dictate gun laws in Montana. One speaker, Montana State University student Joey Chester, drew boos when he referenced the other protest.
“If something went wrong there, the first people to show up are going to be people with guns,” Chester said.
The gun-control advocates gathered in Montana were among hundreds of thousands rallying nationwide at “March for Our Lives” events on Saturday. The events are intended to rally support for stricter gun control laws in the wake of school shootings.
Pro-gun activists held counter-protests at some cities across the western United States on Saturday, even as hundreds of thousands of people rallied at gun control events at the same time.
In Salt Lake City, Utah about 500 pro-gun marchers walked to the state Capitol building, advocating for fortified schools and more armed teachers. An hour later, about 6,000 anti-gun violence demonstrators marched the same route in a call for more gun regulations.
About two dozen gun-rights supporters staged a counter-protest in Phoenix, Arizona, holding flags and sometimes challenging opponents to debate gun issues.
They were far outnumbered, however — the Arizona Department of Public Safety estimates that 15,000 people attended the “March for Our Lives” gun-control rally at the state Capitol. Two of the student organizers of the event opened it by urging young people to register to vote and boot out officeholders who won’t act.
Chin high and tears streaming, Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez stood silent in front of thousands gathered for the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C.
She continued to stand silently as a few crowd members shouted out support. She remained silent as tentative chants broke out. Her silence continued as those attending also fell quiet, many weeping.
The gripping moment stretched for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time Gonzalez said it took a school shooter to kill 17 people and wound many others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month.
Gonzalez is one of several teens from the school to become gun control activists in the wake of the shooting. Their efforts have galvanized youth nationwide, with hundreds of thousands attending similar rallies across the country.
Gonzalez wrapped up the Washington, D.C. rally with some homework for those who demonstrated nationwide:
“One final plug,” she said. “Get out there and vote.”
Fifteen-year-old Brooke Solomon led thousands of demonstrators in a march through the downtown streets of Detroit. Ten-year-old Jack Thorne attended a similar event in Atlanta, Georgia with his mom. South Salem High School student Allison Hmura told protesters in Salem, Oregon that students shouldn’t have to learn to “duck and cover.”
The youths were among hundreds of thousands at “March for Our Lives” events nationwide calling for stricter gun control in response to school shootings and gun violence.
“I’m here marching for the thousands of under-represented black and brown kids, especially in Detroit,” said Solomon, who wants background checks in all gun sales. “I’m looking for tougher gun laws and legislation that includes banning semi-automatic and assault weapons.”
In Atlanta, Thorne held aloft a sign reading “Guns Don’t Kill People. Ummm... Yes They Do,” as he described how he and his classmates recently underwent active shooter drills in school.
And Hmura called on the nearly 2,400 people gathered at the Salem rally to fight for change.
“There cannot be two sides to our safety in school where we should be learning, growing and making friends — not learning how to duck and cover,” Hmura said.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said in a prepared statement Saturday that he supports demonstrators’ rights to march at anti-gun rallies across the country, but called for activists to find common ground with opponents.
“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,” the Republican from Florida said.
Rubio’s district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last month. He said that a ban on bump stocks (used to make guns fire more rapidly), improvements to the gun background check system and other efforts were achieved by finding common ground with those who don’t want certain gun bans.
“And finding common ground is what it will take to pass our red flag law so we can take guns away from dangerous people,” Rubio said.
Hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the United States are attending “March for Our Lives” rallies, calling on lawmakers to enact legislation to help stop school shootings and reduce gun violence.
Thousands of people are flooding the streets of downtown Los Angeles to demand stricter gun laws in the U.S.
The rally was one of several being held across California and the United States on Saturday.
Protesters held signs and chanted as they marched to Los Angeles City Hall for the “March for Our Lives” rally.
Zoe Lopez, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Garden Grove, said she’s attending the rally to demand additional regulations on gun purchases.
In Sacramento, thousands chanted: “hey, hey, ho, ho, the NRA has got to go” as they assembled at the state’s capitol.
Rallies in Oakland and San Diego also drew hundreds of demonstrators.
Similar rallies were being held in cities across America to march for gun control and ignite political activism among teenagers.
The granddaughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. told tens of thousands of “March for Our Lives” demonstrators gathered in Washington, D.C. that she too has a dream — for a gun-free world.
“I have a dream that enough is enough,” Yolanda Renee King said, referencing her grandfather’s famous speech. “That this should be a gun-free world. Period.”
The crowd roared in response. The Washington, D.C. event has thousands thronging Pennsylvania Avenue to hear speakers including survivors of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and singers like Miley Cyrus.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended youth-led, anti-gun rallies across the United States and the world on Saturday, calling on lawmakers to tighten gun control in order to stop mass shootings and gun violence.
Hundreds of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School arrived for the Washington, D.C. march on three flights donated by Delta Air Lines.
They’ll return to Florida with Delta after the march too.
The airline, which broke ties with the National Rifle Association after last month’s school shooting that left 17 dead, said they offered the round-trip charter flights “as part of our commitment to supporting the communities we serve.
After the shooting in Parkland, Delta said it would no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to reflect its neutral status on the gun-control debate.
The move triggered a backlash from gun advocates, and the state of Georgia killed a proposed tax break on jet fuel in retaliation.
A series of protests held across the United States Saturday in support of gun control is shaping up to be one of the biggest youth protests since the era of the Vietnam War.
The “March for Our Lives” rallies are a call to action by student survivors of last month’s school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.
At Washington’s “March for Our Lives” rally, throngs jammed Pennsylvania Avenue for blocks. Tens of thousands of teenagers and their supporters roared their approval as survivors of the Parkland, Florida, assault spoke from the stage. One of them, Delaney Tarr, laid down the students’ central demand, a ban on assault-type weapons, and declared “We will continue to fight for our dead friends.”
The Washington crowd was well into the tens of thousands. A vast crowd also rallied in New York City and large marches unfolded in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis and scores of other cities. More than 20,000 rallied in Parkland near the school.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators at student-led anti-gun rallies held across the United States on Saturday were joined by counterparts the world over.
In Paris, France about 100 demonstrators rallied near the Eiffel Tower in solidarity with the American “March for Our Lives” events.
Caitlin Waters, co-organizer of the Paris event, said it’s important for Americans overseas to let Washington know that they want more gun control. Similar rallies were planned in New Zealand, Japan and other countries around the world.
In the United States, rallies stretched from sea to shining sea, with people marching in huge cities like Los Angeles and New York City as well as in smaller ones like Boise, Idaho and Omaha, Nebraska.
Prominent civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis says that the student-led, anti-gun protests occurring across the United States remind him of the early days of the civil rights era.
“I think it’s amazing,” Lewis said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They will be the leaders of the 21st century.”
Lewis joined the “March for Our Lives” protest in Atlanta, Georgia, one of several anti-gun rallies being held across the U.S. on Saturday in response to last month’s Florida school shooting and other mass shootings.
The Democrat also implored his Republican colleagues in Congress to “come to the right side” and to pass meaningful gun-control legislation.
Lewis wore a button with a large red letter “F″ on it, proudly displaying the grade he said he has received from the NRA. Lewis said hundreds of Democratic members of the House were wearing them today.
Tens of thousands gathered at a “March for Our Lives” rally in New York City on Saturday held a moment of silence to honor 17 people killed during a school shooting in Florida just last month.
Sam Hendler, a 16-year-old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was at the rally to read the victims’ names.
Another MSD student, Meghan Bonner, told the demonstrators that she wasn’t surprised when she learned the identity of the shooter because it was obvious something was wrong with him.
“There was so much more that could have been done to prevent this,” she said, fighting back tears. “I want to see change.”
The rally in midtown Manhattan is one of several being held across the United States on Saturday in response to gun violence.
The mayor of Houston, Texas told thousands of demonstrators at a “March for Our Lives” rally that adults have a responsibility to protect all children.
Mayor Sylvester Turner spoke at the Tranquillity Park event Saturday morning, one of several anti-gun rallies being held across the U.S. on Saturday in response to last month’s school shooting in Florida and other mass shootings.
“We have a responsibility for those of us as adults, we have a responsibility to stand up and protect our children,” said Turner.
Turner also chanted with the crowd “Now is the time” to “do the right thing.”
Students chanted “enough is enough” and held up signs with slogans like “our ballots will stop bullets” at a rally in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last month.
More than 20,000 people filled the park near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the “March for Our Lives” rally Saturday morning.
Others from the area traveled to Washington, D.C., where the main “March for Our Lives” event is being held. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft let over 100 people, including families of victims of the Parkland shooting, use the team’s charter plane for the trip.
Team spokesman Stacey James says astronaut Mark Kelly reached out to Kraft for the favor.
“It’s a hard thing to say no to, especially involving these victims,” James said.
More than 20,000 people are expected at the “March for Our Lives” rally nearest the Florida school where last month’s deadly shooting occurred.
Police presence was heavy early Saturday at a park near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High as organizers set up and demonstrators streamed in.
Eighteen-year-old Sabrine Brismeur and 17-year-old Eden Kinlock came from schools 20 miles away to pass out water.
Kinlock said that may seem “like a small thing but it helps in the bigger picture.”
The White House is applauding “the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights” at gun control marches in Washington and in cities around the nation.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters says “keeping our children safe is a top priority” of President Donald Trump and points to his calls on Congress to pass legislation related to expanded background checks and school safety.
Trump is at his Florida home for the weekend. His motorcade took him to his West Palm Beach golf club on Saturday morning as hundreds of thousands of people were preparing for marches after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The president has ordered the Justice Department to ban bump stock devices that enable guns to fire like automatic weapons.
Dozens of protesters are rallying outside the U.S. Embassy in London in solidarity with the “March for Our Lives” protest against gun violence.
Students, families with children and other protesters raised placards reading “Protect kids not guns,” ″Never again,” and “Enough is enough” Saturday outside the new embassy building in south London.
Amnesty International U.K.’s director Kate Allen referred to the 1996 school killings at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, in which 16 students and a teacher were killed.
She said: “After our own school shooting at Dunblane, new gun ownership laws were introduced in Britain and that’s exactly what’s needed in the United States, where gun deaths are a national tragedy.”
Hundreds of marches are planned in U.S. cities and dozens of locations abroad.
With thousands of demonstrators gathering in Washington, organizers of the March for Our Lives rally say the country has reached a historic emotional tipping point on gun violence.
They predict a half-million demonstrators Saturday near the U.S. Capitol building for a several-hour rally. That would match last year’s women’s march and make it one of the largest Washington protests since the Vietnam War era.
A poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that 69 percent of respondents and half of Republicans now favor stronger gun control laws.
Activists are looking to channel the energy of this youth-led initiative into the midterm congressional elections this fall with elements like on-site voter registration booths.
This story has been changed to correct that Jack Thorne was at a march in Atlanta, not Savannah, Georgia and the spelling of Tranquillity Park in Houston, Texas.