Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Atlanta on Saturday as they pushed for stronger gun-control measures in response to last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and other mass shootings.
Led by students including survivors of the Parkland shooting, they carried signs that read “Protect Kids, Not Guns” and “Vote Them Out.” It was one of many anti-gun rallies being held across the U.S.
Carly Novell, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and a survivor of last month’s shooting, spoke to the crowd, saying she used to worry about things like math tests and boys. “Now I worry if my friends are mentally stable enough to live their daily lives. I worry about how many children will die at the hands of a gun. And I worry about the future of our country,” Novell said.
Prominent civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who joined the march to the Georgia Capitol, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he was impressed by the students leading the protests.
“I think it’s amazing. It reminds me of the early days of the civil rights movement,” Lewis said. “They will be the leaders of the 21st century.”
Lewis wore a pin with a large red letter “F” on it, proudly displaying the letter grade he said he has received from the NRA.
Jake Busch, a senior at Chamblee Charter High School, said young people are standing up to demand action from those in power.
“Adults have failed us,” Busch said. “The mistakes of past generations must be fixed by this generation, our generation.”
Jack Thorne, a 10-year-old student at Coastal Empire Charter School in Savannah, traveled to the Atlanta march with his mom. Holding a sign that read “Guns Don’t Kill People. Ummm… Yes They Do,” Jack described how he and his classmates recently underwent active shooter drills in school.
“We practiced what to do when the shooter comes, where to hide, and what to do if anything bad does happen, like if we get separated from the class.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and several Democratic members of the state Legislature also joined the “March for Our Lives” protest.