March for Our Lives: Thousands Demonstrate at Lake Eola

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March for Our Lives: Thousands Demonstrate at Lake Eola

High school students lead a crowd of 25,000  through downtown Orlando to advocate gun regulations.

High school students lead a crowd of 25,000 through downtown Orlando to advocate gun regulations.

High school students lead a crowd of 25,000 through downtown Orlando to advocate gun regulations.

High school students lead a crowd of 25,000 through downtown Orlando to advocate gun regulations.

Sam Schaffer and Samuel Schaffer

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Emotions slipped through the cracks of anger-hardened faces on Saturday, as thousands of families, students, teachers and community members gathered at Lake Eola for March for Our Lives Orlando.

The march began with a rally at 1 p.m. on the northeast corner of Lake Eola Park. With an estimated 25,000 people in attendance according to police, various public servants, survivors of mass shootings, teachers, students and community leaders gave crowd-moving speeches about the need for ‘gun reform now.’

“Failure is not an option, doing nothing is no longer an option because you [the people] are demanding action and we’re not going anywhere until we get it,” exclaimed Congresswoman Val Demings. She went on to have the crowd yell the number of deaths in various mass shootings. “Say 58, say 49, say 27, say 25, say 9, say 17. These are the tragic numbers of people who have lost their lives when those that could have done something did nothing!”

Middle and high school students led the way from Lake Eola to the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts, a route that passed Marco Rubio’s Orlando office.

Chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Marco Rubio’s got to go,” permeated the air in front of his office as the marchers passed. On Thursday Rubio said stricter gun control would not have prevent mass shootings at schools.

Gavin Morgan, a 14-year-old student at Rock Lake Middle School, was there with his dad “My generation’s basically being shot up and I want to change that.”

Morgan was advocating things like banning assault weapons, raising the age requirement to buy a gun, and banning larger clip sizes and bump stocks.

Brian Kalb brought his sons, ages 6 and 2, to support common sense gun reform. “There have been significant upticks in events that I don’t want my kids to be involved in.” He said it is important to bring out the kids “to show [them about] political movements and how to bring about change.”

Many felt that this movement, following the Parkland shooting where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is accused of  killing 17, and injuring 17 more, was different from past efforts.

“I think politicians need to be held accountable and I think that’s happening now. I think rather than politicians being accountable to the NRA, they’re going to have be accountable to the people who vote for them,” explained Rob Bloom who was there with his young children.

“I think there’s going to be some changes in 2018,” he said.

According to it’s website, “March For Our Lives is created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar. In the tragic wake of the seventeen lives brutally cut short in Florida, politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns.  March For Our Lives believes the time is now.”

More than 700 ‘March for Our Lives’ protests took place across the United States.