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Thousands march across Seattle to protest gun violence

Annelise Bowser, Copy Editor
Originally published March 30, 2018

Annelise Bowser

Annelise Bowser

Thousands of marchers in Seattle joined millions around the world on March 24 as a part of the March For Our Lives campaign, a student-led response to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last February.

All manner of people, and canines, took to the streets—grandmothers, toddlers, students and parents, even Gregory Rickel, the current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia. This diversity reflected the intersectionality of the movement: there were ASL translators signing next to the speakers, students from the south side spoke about the connection between police violence and gun violence, and a high school GSA club marched alongside church members from Bainbridge Island.

“I’m here today because we have to have sensible gun regulation in this country, I’m here today because Jesus, who I follow, would be out here walking today, and he did believe in peace and called for us to be peaceful, and the way this country is handling this issue isn’t [peaceful], so that’s why I’m here today,” Bishop Rickel said.

Gallery|7 Photos

A young girl and her father march alongside thousands of others carrying signs protesting gun violence. (Annelise Bowser)

There was also a huge emphasis on voting. Hundreds of signs warned gun enthusiasts that voters were coming for them, volunteers passed out voter registration forms at the entrance of Cal Anderson Park where the march began and student speakers registered to vote onstage as a symbol of youth power. The number of voters between the ages of 18 and 21 are historically low, and the leaders of March For Our Lives—Seattle stressed the importance of young people’s civic duty.

After a series of speeches, thousands of marchers filled the streets. There was this feeling of immense power—the sense that the crowd was a part of a productive act that would serve the needs of generations to come. People chanted “Tell me what democracy looks like? This is what democracy looks like!” Their screams and cheers echoed off the skyscrapers in a deafening roar.

One of the most eye-catching elements of the march were the signs. “Guns are not school supplies,” one declared, while others poked fun at politicians like Betsy DeVos and made references to popular culture. A young girl held a sign that said “If I grow up, I will change the world,” and a toddler being pushed by her mother in a stroller carried a poster proclaiming that “Kindergarteners should be practicing the ABC’s, not active shooter drills.”

The march ended at the Seattle Center, where Governor Jay Inslee and the Governor of Connecticut, Dan Malloy, who was in office during the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, spoke to their audience. Inslee again urged marchers to take their goals to the polls. “We want you to be as engaged as you are today,” Inslee said. “Look at today as a decade of helping our state and our nation.”

Dave Matthews and Brandi Carlile also performed both songs and speeches at the Seattle Center after the march. Matthews spoke of the prominence of gun violence in his life. “I lost my sister to gun violence and I lost my uncle to gun violence and it’s a real thing,” Matthews said.

In addition to support from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and George and Amal Clooney for the national March For Our Lives movement that has received over $3 million in donations, the March For Our Lives – Seattle GoFundMe has received over $43,000 in the last month. The Seattle sector of the organization has also partnered with local organizations, including the Alliance For Gun Responsibility, Amplifier, Cupcake Royale and Seattle Public Schools.

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Thousands march across Seattle to protest gun violence