March For Our Lives: Los Angeles
Thirty-eight days after 17 students and faculty members lost their lives in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, approximately 60,000 people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to support gun reform in the United States of America this Saturday, March 24.
The student-led March For Our Lives movement in Los Angeles, California started at the intersection of West 5th St and South Broadway at 9 a.m., where speakers told their stories to the growing crowd, many who held colorful protest signs. “And we the students have had enough, because we are sick and tired of watching our friends die in our classrooms while Congress sits on its hands and does nothing but offer thoughts and prayers,” said a student speaker following screams of support from the particularly youthful crowd.
A survivor of the 1999 Columbine school shooting, Richard Castaldo, followed this sentiment, saying on the chilly morning: “It’s good that Black Lives Matter is here. Unfortunately, for our governments, no lives matter apparently, right…We need a government that actually listens to the people, instead of the NRA and gun manufacturers, I think that’s the main problem.”
Protestors began to march at around 10 a.m., where tens of thousands of people began their way to city hall, filling the streets of downtown Los Angeles. March attendees cheered and scream as they awaited the speakers and performers to come on the stage set in between Grand Park and city hall.
Octavia Anthony, 14, stood along the fence dividing the crowd and the backstage, waiting to perform with her group, the Compton Kids Club. “I feel like it’s better because it’s students that’s doing it, the new generation that has to live in the world with gun laws… we’re the one’s that are making the change because this is our generation, this is our future,” Anthony said.
Down the street from the crowd filling Grand Park stood a smaller crowd of over a dozen. Trump supporters filled the police-taped southeast corner of North Spring St and West 1st St, with LAPD officers lined up outside of the police tape keeping the general public’s interaction with the counter-protesters under control. Trump supporter Arthur Schaper, a counter-protestor who says he attends these protests frequently, spoke of why he attended the event: “I’m here counter-protesting this mindless attack against the second amendment, against gun rights… We definitely shouldn’t be passing legislation dealing with peoples second amendment rights based on emotion.”
The march attracted students from all across Southern California, with Simi Valley High Schooler, William Viehauser, being one of them. When asked why he attended the march, Viehauser said, “I don’t want to go to college and have to deal with school shootings…our generation is going to run for office…we don’t use bullets, we use ballots.”
The event ended at around 2 p.m., with the streets of downtown Los Angeles opening back up. Officer Mike Lopez of the LAPD stated that the March ended with no arrests or recorded counts of violence.