The message is clear. There will be no more impunity for politicians who chose the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association (NRA) over “American lives.” As tens of thousands filled Philadelphia Avenue, across the U.S. 800 March for Our Lives events were organized in cities like New York, Phoenix, Atlanta, Oakland, and Parkland to demand: 1) a ban on assault weapons, 2) a ban on high-capacity magazines, and 3) universal background checks for weapons sales.
“They will try to separates us in demographics, by religion, race, congressional district and class. They will fail,” Hogg warned. The Never Again movement has ensured that those who seek division fail in portraying it as a middle-class, white-kids movement by acknowledging that some voices are privileged and by making sure its protagonists reflect the complexities of an issue that is crossed by socioeconomic status and race.
Edna Chavez of South Central Los Angeles opened her speech greeting everyone: “Hola, buenas tardes (Hellow, good morning)” she said before raising her fist. Edna considers herself a survivor “You hear pops thinking their fireworks, they weren’t pops.” South Central L.A. like other working-class neighborhoods inhabited mostly by Black and brown families, has experienced endemic violence for decades.
In front of tens of thousands, Edna spoke against the normalization of the deaths of Black and brown youths due to gun related violence. She also criticized the authorities response to violence in working-class communities for profiling and criminalizing students from minority groups.
Naomi Wadler, a Black 11-year-old girl from Virginia also spoke about this issue. “I am here to acknowledge the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper… I am here to say never again for those girls too” she said to a cheering crowd. “We know we stand in the shadow of the Capitol, but we now that we have seven short years until we too have the right to vote,” Naomi warned those in power.
Emma Gonzalez, one of the most recognizable faces of the rising Never Again movement, was effective in transmitting the emotional aspects and trauma tied to gun-violence. During her speech she listed each person murdered in the Parkland shooting, remembering the things they “will never” do again. Then, she plunged into an active silence with the crowd. The absence of these kids, victims of gun-violence, was felt and it was deafening.
WATCH: Emma Gonzalez names the murdered Parkland victims and observes several minutes of silence in a 6-minute, 20-second speech that covered the same time it took the gunman to kill 17 people in her high school:— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 24, 2018
"Fight for your lives before it's someone else's job." pic.twitter.com/OrTfuTdSNn
Emotions and the description of how violence affects diverse communities was accompanied by clear warning. “To all the politicians out there: if you have taken money from the NRA, you have chosen death!.. And none of the millions marching in this country today will not stop until they see those against us out of office! Because we chose life!” Parkland survivor Alex Wind vowed. Throughout the day you could hear the crowd chanting “Vote them out!”
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