Crowds Arrive For 'March For Our Lives' In D.C.

Mar 24, 2018
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Students, parents and teachers have gathered across the country, around the world, really, today to take part in an anti-gun violence rally, the March for Our Lives. This student-led event was inspired by survivors of a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida last month. And the march's mission is to try to end gun violence and pressure lawmakers to take up stronger gun control legislation. NPR's Brakkton Booker is out along the protest route in Washington D.C.. Brakkton, thanks for being with us.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Absolutely, Scott.

SIMON: Please tell us where you are and what you can see.

BOOKER: So I am about a block away from the main stage for the March for Our Lives rally here Washington, D.C. I'm actually sitting in a little park where I could get a little bit better cell phone service so I could have a chat with you. I mean, we are seeing large crowds. Now, I've covered inaugurations, and I've covered the Women's March. This is a large crowd, not as big but certainly energetic. And people were holding signs that people were excited to be here.

SIMON: You've been following a number of the student activists since the shootings in February at Parkland at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. What are the organizers of the March for Our Lives calling for today?

BOOKER: Yeah, that's right. I've covered these students both in Tallahassee and in Parkland, Fla. Now they're coming to D.C., where they say ending gun control - sorry - ending gun violence and demanding more school safety needs to be a top priority across the country. Now, that's the mission statement. But when speakers got to the podium, and when I'm speaking to folks who came here to take part in the protest, they are calling for stuff that is much stronger than that. They want a ban on bump stocks. They want a ban on large magazines that go into rifles, and they want a ban on assault rifles. There are some 800 sister marches going on across the country. But here, we spoke to Cameron Kasky, who was one of the speakers on the main stage. And this is what he had to say.

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CAMERON KASKY: Their families endured great pain. Many others were injured. And thousands of young people, my classmates, were forced to become adults and were targeted as adults. We have to do this for them. We must stand beside those we've lost and fix the world that betrayed them.

BOOKER: And then there were other speakers like a young man, Trevon Bosley who is from Chicago. He said he also felt gun violence because he lost his brother. And this is what he had to say.

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TREVON BOSLEY: I'm here to speak for those Chicago youth who feel our voices have been silenced for far too long. And I'm here to speak on behalf of everyone that believes a child getting killed in Chicago or any of the city is still an unacceptable norm.

BOOKER: So overall, they are calling for gun safety laws to be stronger, and they are saying no more guns in schools. They don't want to see another person lose their life while going to school because someone brought a gun there.

SIMON: Brakkton, how do you think the young men and women who have, in many ways, organized and inspired this march - people like David Hogg, who we speak with another portion of our show - what kind of - how are they going to measure the success of today's events?

BOOKER: Well, just before we got on, there was a chant of vote them out, vote them out. And that is something that I'm hearing from a lot of folks who came here today. They're saying if politicians, especially at the federal level, cannot get behind doing something to change the gun laws then come November and the mid-term elections, they need to be voted out. And if they're not voting out in this election, in 2020 and in the elections beyond. So they really want to influence the ballot box and make sure that people are energized beyond just this march today.

SIMON: NPR's Brakkton Booker, who's out with demonstrators in Washington, D.C., in the March for Our Lives event. Thanks so much for being with us, Brakkton.

BOOKER: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.