Despite the frosty air Saturday, thousands of Cincinnatians attended the nationwide student-organized protest March for Our Lives (MFOL) at Cincinnati City Hall.
This movement gained major traction in wake of a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where Nicholas Cruz shot and killed 17 of his classmates on February 14, 2018.
Now history is repeating itself with the students of our nation in the face of gun violence.
The speakers of the event frequently spoke directly to the children and teens in the crowd.
"I wrote a letter because it would make her happy and because I am sorry that her 17 friends got killed", Lyra adds. Montalto's 14-year-old granddaughter, Gina Montalto, died in the Parkland shooting. Their ability to repeatedly confront the trauma they survived in the name of change has been inspiring to many.
This march collected £620 for the Dunblane No Guns and the Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund. It was the students who showed the grace and dignity the day required.
"Often, we have this notion that, "Oh, they're used to it" - and that's BS", said Steven Berkowitz, director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery.
NeverAgain activists have made it clear that this weekend's March For Our Lives was just the beginning of their movement, and one of their clearest goals is to change gun control laws through voting.
In the days counting down to the march, I thought I knew exactly what to expect - powerful performances, impassioned speeches by the courageous students from Stoneman Douglas High School and absolutely no recognition from GOP politicians. They listened to the program through amplified speakers.
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Bernstein, along with other Northwestern students, participated in the March for Our Lives on Saturday.
I watched the march from a higher standpoint relative to others in the park, from where I could see the park bursting with crowds of people. The Human Beings took the place of someone who would have wanted to be there that day but could not be. Experts and leaders of past movements say it's going to be an uphill battle to translate the #NeverAgain movement into significant changes.
The march, which headed toward Columbus Circle and then east to Sixth Avenue, continued for hours. Harper, Hodges and Linden are three of several SJHS students planning an April 20 school walkout - the anniversary of the 1999 school shooting in Columbine, Colorado - and have had a few conversations with teachers and administrators. "You can put a silencer on a gun, but you can't put one on me, and you can't put one on any of our voices". But for many gun owners, Saturday's events were a daylong example of what Jim Wallace calls "the new social bigotry against gun owners".
A young girl attending the March for Our Lives event, March 24, 2018, in Denver, holds up a sign reading, "Love not war". "Ever since Sandy Hook, I've gotten very emotional upon hearing about these horrific shootings, and after Parkland I really thought, when is this going to end?"
Attendees held signs in the air during speeches and performances. "In the 1960s, there was a transformation and the kids today are taking control of this issue".
Over and over, written messages as well as chants condemned easy access to guns in this country, its tragic consequences, the profit motive behind it, and the politicians unwilling to act to stop it.
Freshman Class President Sam Schatmeyer agreed that gun violence is a national issue.
Meghan Bonner recounted the horror she experienced at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last month. Many on the left were inspired by the dramatic display of political mobilization and were optimistic that it would lead to a Democratic wave in November.
During her time on stage, Emma spent much of it silent, staring at the crowd with tears streaming down her face. Many people have hit out at what they see as an attack on Gonzalez and the March for Our Lives movement.
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