Update, 5 p.m.: Current estimates say that more than 800,000 people participated in the March for Our Lives in the nation’s capital, plus more than 200,000 in New York City, and hundreds of thousands in other cities across the country. A couple thousand of them were in West Palm Beach, FL, where President Donald Trump spent the day hiding out at his golf course.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump’s motorcade took the scenic route back to Mar-a-Lago from the Trump International Golf Club after the president played golf, in order to bypass protesters.
The Times said the White House “did not respond to a question about the reason for the detour.”
While the sitting president couldn’t be bothered to comment on the mass mobilization of Americans in favor of sensible gun reform—a movement inspired and led by teenagers—one former U.S. president did think it important to weigh in on the issue. Former President Barack Obama encouraged the nation’s young leaders to keep at it.
“Michelle and I are so inspired by all the young people who made today’s marches happen. Keep at it. You’re leading us forward,” Obama tweeted. “Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.”
Although Trump wasn’t in DC, protesters decided to leave him a little gift by placing their handmade signs outside the Trump International Hotel, in a makeshift memorial to victims of gun violence and of Trump’s reign of terror on American democracy.
New York City marchers did the same outside a makeshift memorial wall.
But more important than the signs were the number of clipboards, says pollster Matt McDermott. “From the Women’s March to the March For Our Lives, the most empowering sight is the number of people carrying not signs, but clipboards. Registering people to vote. These aren’t just protests, they’re a mass mobilization of Midterm voters,” he tweeted.
And don’t think for a second they’re all Democrats:
Update, 3:40 p.m.: Here’s a view from the stage, looking west down Pennsylvania Avenue:
Another memorable line from earlier today, delivered by student David Hogg: “Today is the beginning of spring, and tomorrow is the beginning of democracy.”
And here are D’Angelo McDade, a senior at North Lawndale College Prep High School in Chicago, left, who was shot while sitting on his porch in 2017, and Alex King, also a senior at North Lawndale Prep:
“For we are survivors. Let me say that again for you: For we are survivors. We are survivors of a cruel and silent nation. A nation where freedom, justice, equality, and purpose is not upheld,” McDade said.
Update, 3:20 p.m.: In case you missed it, Chicago native Jennifer Hudson, who lost several family members to gun violence, joined the DC Choir in closing the day’s programming by taking everyone to church with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. Just in case you haven’t cried enough today.
Update, 2:50 p.m.: Emma Gonzalez just stood on stage for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took for the shooting to unfold at her high school in Parkland, FL. It was an excruciatingly painful and moving moment. “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job,” she said.
Update, 2:35 p.m.: Sen. Marco Rubio, the target of many critical comments today by people much younger (and arguably smarter) than him, continued demonstrating that he’s tone–deaf when it comes to the movement for gun control unfolding around him. In response to the March for Our Lives, Rubio issued the following statement:
“I commend those who today who 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.”
Update, 2:05 p.m.: Earlier today, Edna Lisbeth Chávez, a 17–year–old youth leader from South Los Angeles, delivered a powerful speech in memory of her brother, Ricardo, who died from gun violence. “I learned how to duck from bullets before I learned how to read,” she said.
“We need to focus on changing the conditions that foster violence and trauma. And that’s how we will transform our communities and uplift our voices,” Chávez said. “Mi nombre, my name, es Edna Lisbeth Chávez. Remember my name, remember these faces, remember us and how we’re making a change. La lucha sigue.”
And look at this crowd!
Update, 1:20 p.m.: Yeah, she’s 11 years old, but Naomi Wadler, from Alexandria, VA, is smarter than most adults.
“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper. Whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she said. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers. I’m here to say ‘Never Again’ for those girls, too.”
Also, Douglas High senior Nicholas Dworet, who was killed in the Feb. 14 massacre, would have turned 18 today.
Update, 1 p.m.: In New York, protesters in Manhattan hold pictures of victims killed in gun violence.
And Sir Paul McCartney joins them, telling CNN, “One of my best friends was shot not far from where we are right now,” a reference to the late John Lennon, killed on Dec. 8, 1980. McCartney sported a black T-shirt declaring, “We can end gun violence.”
Also, this ain’t a Red vs. Blue issue!
Update, Saturday, 12:13 p.m.: Shortly after noon, the DC rally kicked off with singer Andra Day and Baltimore’s Cardinal Shehan School Choir, with an appearance by rapper Common. Rise up!
In a message to politicians, Kasky said, “Either represent the people, or get out…Stand for us or beware, the voters are coming.”
Here are some scenes from the rally ahead of the official start from Splinter’s Emma Roller:
Meanwhile, as the March for Our Lives got underway, President Donald Trump tweeted his “thoughts and prayers” for France, after a terrorist attack that happened yesterday.
He has tweeted nothing so far today about the worldwide march.
Original post continues here.
The United States has a gun problem, and it took student victims of yet another mass shooting to finally do something about it.
More than half a million people are expected to join together on Saturday in Washington, DC, during the March for Our Lives to demand action on gun reform. More than 840 similar events are scheduled across the country, along with others around the world.
By early morning, tens of thousands of people already had descended on the nation’s capital, including students, teachers, politicians, gun reform advocates, celebrities, and countless survivors and victims of mass shootings in the country dating back several years. The DC march was scheduled to kick off at noon local time.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and is expected to spend most of Saturday playing golf at the Trump International Golf Club. A photo posted on the president’s Instagram on Friday shows Trump leaving at Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews, without first lady Melania Trump and son Barron, who traveled to Florida separately. The Instagram photo was captioned “MAKING AMERICA SAFE & GREAT AGAIN!”
But the president, who is extremely close to directors of the National Rifle Association and often echoes NRA talking points on policy, won’t escape the protests. At least 2,000 people are expected to march down Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach toward Mar-a-Lago, according to the Palm Beach Post.
All of this is happening less than 40 days after 17 students and faculty were killed and several others injured during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. The student survivors responded by mounting a fearless and masterful publicity campaign against gun violence in favor of badly needed gun reform.
This story is developing. Follow for updates.