Student-Led Rallies Demand Action on Guns

8-year-old tells crowd she learned 'to hide in a classroom before I learned to read'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2022 5:43 PM CDT
Thousands at Rallies Describe Toll of Gun Violence
People participate in the March for Our Lives rally Saturday in Washington, DC.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Thousands of people attended rallies across the country on Saturday to call for new gun control laws, saying the issue can no longer be ignored after the recent series of horrific mass shootings. "If you listen closely, you will hear the cries of our fallen loved ones, in our churches, our synagogues, our schools and now our grocery stores," Raymond Whitfield told the crowd at the Washington Monument, CNN reports. His mother, Ruth, who was 86, was shot to death at a Buffalo supermarket last month. "Lower your weapons, and let us replace the hate," her son said.

More than 450 rallies were planned by March for Our Lives, an organization formed by survivors of the high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, per NBC News. The largest was in Washington, which organizers said drew 40,000 people, per USA Today. People gathered in smaller places, as well, including West Melbourne, Florida, where an 8-year-old girl addressed 300 people about the fear in schools. "I learned to lock the door, turn off the lights, and hide in a classroom before I learned to read," Addisyn Mayer said, asking the nation's leaders, "What if the kids that are asking for change are the answer to your thoughts and prayers, and you're just not listening to us?"

In Washington, Manuel Oliver, whose son, Joaquin, died in Parkland, called out politicians. "Our elected officials betrayed us and have avoided the responsibility to end gun violence," she said. A college student told a Los Angeles rally the movement is led by students and why, per the Los Angeles Times. "We are the ones who have to go through the active shooter drills every semester. We are the ones who wake up in the morning and wonder if our school is next," said Shaadi Ahmadzadeh, 19. "We are the ones who go off to college or into the workforce and text our younger siblings to make sure they've made it home that night." (More March for Our Lives stories.)

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