Chiemelie Ezeobi from Denver, Colorado
Following the recent spike in fatal shootings at schools across America, thousands yesterday gathered at the Civic Centre park, Denver in Colorado, as part of the nationwide protest against gun violence.
The rally, which was followed by a March, was influenced by last month’s shooting at Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida that claimed 17 lives.
Themed ‘March for Our Lives’, the protesters included children, teenagers, pregnant women, the old and not excluding the disabled who rolled over on their wheel chairs.
Chanting protest songs, the protesters called for gun control as well as a strict law against gun violence of any kind.
Bearing placards, the protesters called on the congress, comprising the senate and House of Representatives, to not just disarm gun owners but to put out a proper gun control that will checkmate illegitimate gun ownership.
Some of the placards read, ‘Guns don’t kill, people kill people’, ‘Guns don’t kill until it’s your child’, ‘Their rights to live trumps your right to an assault weapon’, ‘Books and not guns’, ‘Protect us from guns and its violence since the National Rifle Association (NRA) will not’.
Others read ‘Action speaks louder than words’, We stand against gun violence’, ‘Protect out schools’, ‘Congress do your job, gun control now’, ‘Hey NRA, you always look the other way’, ‘No more bullying with guns’, ‘No more thoughts and prayers, we need a policy change’.
Some read ‘5,800 children are injured every year by guns’, ‘We are the future keep us safe’, ‘Why is the right to hold a gun higher than the right not to be shot?’, ‘Please don’t shoot me, I am still young’, ‘Protect children, not guns’, and ‘We want change’.
Some victims and their families were given opportunities to speak about their ordeal. They recounted their last moments with them before they heard about their death.
They include Rev. Tammy Williams, whose son is a Columbine High School shooting survivor; Tish Beauford, the Women’s March organiser; Tom Mauser, whose son died during the Columbine shooting.
Others include Ally Olsen and Brooke Engel, both Arapahoe High School shooting survivors; Marcus Weaver, an Aurora theater shooting survivor; Diana Dang, a survivor of the Isla Vista killings near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.
Sam Craig, organiser of Jeffco Students United for Action, Sara Grossman, whose friend died in the Pulse night club shooting in Florida, Olivia Caudil, an 11-year-old activist, Coni Sanders, whose father died during the Columbine shooting and Maddie King – a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting also had their say.
Very poignant was the one minute of silence held for the souls of the dead, after a corporate prayer was held for safety.
Meanwhile, a team of policemen who were flagged off about a lone man’s suspicious behaviour, frisked him and found a pistol and mace on him. Given the non-violent nature of the protest, the pistol was retrieved from him before he was handcuffed and placed under arrest.