March For Our Lives: Six key takeaways from the US gun control rallies


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It was the biggest gun control protest in a generation. Hundreds of rallies were staged across the US and beyond as marchers filled the streets calling for the implementation of tighter measures following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida school in February.

That incident not only ignited the #NeverAgain movement, but also Saturday’s mass demonstrations, which took place under the banner of March For Our Lives and were led by a rally in Washington DC attended by some 200,000 demonstrators, according to CBS News.

With events not just in the US but as far afield as London, Paris, Mauritius, Tokyo, Stockholm, Sydney, Geneva and Berlin, the day was made up of powerful messages delivered by articulate students and children, most of whom have already in some way experienced gun violence.

Here are six key moments from some of the biggest US rallies since the Vietnam War era.

1. Survivor shows the power of silence

One of the most emotionally charged moments came when Emma Gonzalez, one of the student survivors of the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, took to the podium in Washington DC.

Ms Gonzalez, who has been at the forefront of the recent student-led protests, delivered a powerful speech in which she listed the 17 people killed at her school before she fell silent for several minutes.

When an alarm beeped, she switched it off and noted that six minutes and 20 seconds had passed since she first took the stage, saying they represented the exact time it took the gunman to kill her classmates.

The crowd erupted into chants of “Emma, Emma” as she left the stage.

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Media captionEmma Gonzalez demonstrated the power of silence during her speech

2. MLK’s granddaughter also has a dream

The nine-year-old granddaughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, Yolanda Renee King, touched the large crowds as she shared her “dream” in a surprise appearance.

“I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said, referencing her grandfather’s famous I Have a Dream speech on ending racism, which was delivered in 1963 close to where she now stood.

“That this should be a gun-free world – period,” she added.

She then told those gathered to “spread the word all across the nation” as they roared in support.

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Media captionYolanda Renee King: “I have a dream that enough is enough”

3. Girl, 11, inspires America

She may only be 11, but Naomi Wadler’s strong voice at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC is still reverberating across the US.

The fifth grader from Alexandria, Virginia, said she represented African-American girls ignored by the media and suffering from gun violence.

“I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper or lead on the evening news,” she said.

She added that she represented those who are “simply statistics” instead of “vibrant, beautiful girls who are full of potential”.

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Media caption“I represent African-American women who are simply statistics”

4. Sandy Hook survivors say ‘thank you’

They were children when a gunman opened fire at their primary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in 2012.

But on Saturday, the survivors of the school massacre that claimed the lives of 27 people, arrived on the streets of Washington DC as teenagers to join the Parkland survivors.

“America, I am pleading with you to realise this is not OK,” said Matthew Soto, whose sister was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook. “Show those that say our lives are not more important than a gun that we are important,” he added.

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Media captionSandy Hook survivors march with Parkland survivors

Speaking before the march, Sandy Hook survivor Dalton Milgram said: “It’s happening so often.”

His sister, Lauran, added that such incidents should never happen, saying they were “just too consistent” and “needed to stop”.

Their parents, Erin and Eric Milgram, said: “To the Parkland kids, thank you for not letting anyone silence you.”

5. Celebrities lend their support

For those in need of help, for those in need of somebody, Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney was on hand at the march in New York, Manhattan, to make a stand for what he said was a personal stake in the gun control debate.

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Sir Paul McCartney joined the rally in New York City

“One of my best friends was shot not far from here,” he said, referring to John Lennon, who was gunned down near the park in 1980.

Kim Kardashian West and her husband, rapper Kanye West, flew into Washington DC to join the main demonstration.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and Demi Lovato were among a number of entertainers to perform at the DC rally.

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Miley Cyrus sings The Climb at the rally in Washington DC

Jennifer Hudson, whose mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew were all shot dead in 2008, performed a cover version of the Bob Dylan song The Times They Are a-Changin’.

Others present at the march in DC included the actor George Clooney, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg, author Stephen King, TV host Ellen DeGeneres, late-night show host Jimmy Fallon and singer Cher.

6. Signs that grabbed attention

Signs carried by protesters included strong messages criticising lawmakers who oppose tougher laws, with many also attacking the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful US gun lobby.

Others included powerful statements that highlighted the need for a rethink on current gun control laws and the sort of devastation that certain types of automatic weapons can inflict.

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A number of students wore targets on their chests asking: “Am I next?”

There were also signs that carried humour and impact in equal measure.

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A message about learning statistics as opposed to becoming one


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