With concrete skyscrapers and asphalt as the backdrop to the revolution, teens across the nation took the streets en masse on March 24, 2018 for the March for Our Lives, a resounding moment in history demanding gun control and an end to gun violence.
Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of teen demonstrators appeared at rallies across the nation to take a stand against gun violence. (Photo: Dustin Duong, for Ingress.)
Armed only with signs, bullhorns, and unwavering will, they marched down avenues in a tremendous show of defiance of what many say has quickly become the norm in America. Our culture, says one marcher, is one characterized by clinging steadfastly onto our second amendment rights. But as another’s sign puts it, “18 Century Laws cannot regulate Military Weapons
Signs and chants expressed a purposeful desire to see positive change in regard to gun control. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
Saturday’s demonstrations paint a broader picture of these ideas. There are hundreds of thousands of people that share the same sentiment. And there are hundreds of thousands of people with one thought on their mind: that enough is enough. That day, people marched not for themselves, but for their families, their peers, and for the lives lost in the seventeen recorded school shootings so far in 2018. They all adamantly believed in a cause that worked, in theory, to save lives.
Gen Z, the social media generation, the generation obsessed with their phones, the generation that too deviant or too involved, took a stand to champion gun control in the hopes that it would prevent another tragedy.
Mike Worth, a resident of Charlotte, NC, lost his cousin Meadow Pollack in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting and addresses the crowd at the march. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
“On February 14, my cousin Meadow Pollack was shot nine times at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school,”
Mike Worth remarked as he choked back tears at the rally in Charlotte, North Carolina. Worth, an artist and professor at Queens University, says “I never thought this would happen to somebody I knew, let alone a family member.”
Since that day, Meadow’s father, Andrew, has worked relentlessly through the heartbreak and torture of having lost a child to lobby for gun control, even appearing in an audience before the White House.
In the wake of his devastating loss, Worth stands before a crowd of thousands to call for being “Proactive now, instead of reactive when it happens here and it’s already too late.” He, like many parents, fear for his children’s safety, afraid that something mirroring the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas may happen. To the organizers of the rally, school is no place for cowering from an active shooter.
This American issue drew intergenerational support as teens banded with children, adults, and elderly to protest in defense of children across the nation. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
A supporter of the cause himself, John Simpson stands before the crowd acting as security. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
“I speak on behalf of the students who no longer feel safe at school… It is not a place for children to have to fear for their futures.”
Jessica Clarke, a junior from Hough High School, banded together with students from her school and Charlotte Country Day School to organize the event, one of 800 happening in cities all over the United States. She sums up the common mentality that has gripped organizers and marchers, “In order to prevent this atrocity from occurring in our communities, we are demanding policy change--policy change such as nationally raising the age to own a gun from 18 to 21,” soliciting cheers from a zealous crowd.
Jessica Clarke, one of the organizers from Hough High School. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
Earlier that morning, protesters trickled into First Ward Park in Uptown Charlotte, finding a volunteer check-in and voter registration table. Handing out applications, they were intent on urging the generation that would see the last school shooting to take to the polls after taking to the streets.
Despite having to be at least sixteen to apply for early voter registration in North Carolina, people even younger arrived to be heard. Two survivors of Sandy Hook, Criss and Ella Berke, fourth graders at the time and now freshmen at Marvin Ridge High School, recounted their experience in the aftermath of the atrocity.
“My innocence was stolen from me December 14, 2012.”
says Criss, referring to a school shooting in Connecticut that claimed the lives of 20 elementary-age children and six staff members. It cuts deep for her and her sister, because those were more than names: they were her peers, and they were her trusted teachers and principal. “We cannot sit idly by and watch as our fellow Americans are being shot, as American fathers and mothers lose their children, and as American students are afraid to go to school.”
Criss, left, watches as her twin sister Ella addresses the crowd. The two were survivors of the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut before relocating to Georgia, then North Carolina. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
This is a quintessentially American issue. In our refusal to consider the prospect of regulation, we endanger children on a daily basis. Since Sandy Hook, it is reported that there have been at least 300 school shootings. And yet, according to Kris, “Too many students are afraid to go to school. Major changes need to be made and they can be made together.”
Her twin sister, Ella, hid in the gymnasium on December 14, 2012. She was separated from her sibling. As the situation transpired outside, she and her class locked themselves in a closet, fearing for their lives in the fourth grade. Criss looks on as Ella addresses the group that’s gathered around her as she, now a freshman in North Carolina, calls for change. “We will not sit quietly,” she starts. “We will be the change. We will make the change even though it could have been long ago. No longer can we be silenced or forgotten.”
Unlike the revolutions in the past, the “we” she’s referring to aren’t idealistic adults; they’re idealistic and headstrong teenagers and kids. They are doing what only a decade ago would have been impossible: sparking change almost overnight. Technology, a boon to grassroots movements like this, has enabled an idea to spread virulently among the younger generations, the generations that are and will continue to be affected by this. It was because of technology that the organizers from Hough High and Charlotte Country Day were able to connect and do something monumental and invoke their first amendment right to protest and peaceful assembly.
Organizers from high schools across Charlotte led the march through the streets, joined by alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. (Photos: Dustin Duong, for Ingress)
These teenagers with their eyes on the future were at the forefront of change, leading the march as police looked on. Rosemary Collin, a senior, stood behind the pedestal and in front of a cheering crowd:
“The most stubborn generation will show you how stubborn we can get.”
When the march began, protesters marched in unison to the beat of a snare drum with teenagers leading chants like, “Show them what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” Generations old--like alums from Marjory Stoneman Douglas--and new--like the ones behind the March for Our Lives--joined in a powerful, rousing show of solidarity in the face of trauma and bloodshed. And if there’s one thing that can be learned, it’s that enough is enough for these high schoolers. It’s time to take change into their own hands.