24th March 2018
The older I get the faster time seems to fly. It’s been a very long time since my last post and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve now only just got round to posting about an extremely important event that I covered at the beginning of this year in Washington DC. March for Our Lives took place on 24th March 2018. The main event was in DC, but many other cities across the US and abroad participated. It was estimated that some 800,000 protested in DC and a total of approx 1.2 and 2 million people demonstrated in other parts of the States, making it one of the largest youth protests in US history since the Vietnam War.
Events leading up to the mass protests:
- 1st October, 2017: Mass shooting. Music Festival, Las Vegas, Nevada. 58 people killed 851 injured.
- 5th November, 2017: Mass shooting. First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas. 26 people killed 20 injured.
- February 14, 2018: Mass shooting. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida. 17 students/staff killed 17 injured.
America had had enough. Following these latest four mass shootings in as many months, a huge number of American’s were demanding greater gun control, including universal background checks on all gun sales, a ban on the sale of high capacity magazines and bump stocks, and raising the federal age of gun procession and ownership to 21. The horrific massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School inspired student survivors to launch ‘The March For Our Lives’ campaign with the intent to convince lawmakers to address the issue of gun violence and school shootings.
On 14th February I submitted a sculpture into the Royal Academy Summer Show. Entitled ‘Eleven years under’ it represents the 732 children (aged between 0-11) killed or injured by guns during 2017 in the USA. As I pressed the submit button the horrific news came in of a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Unfortunately my piece wasn’t accepted but it did fuel a further drive within me to fly out to Washington DC to document the every growing protest and be a part of history.
The power of silence.
When Emma González, 18, (prominent activist and survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting) took to the stage, the crowds grew silent. Her speech took just six minutes and twenty seconds – the exact time it took for Nikolas Cruz to shoot her schoolmate
“Six minutes, and about 20 seconds. In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 more were injured, and everyone, absolutely everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered. Everyone who was there….. understands.
Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands. For us, long, tearful, chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing……..
For those who still can’t comprehend, because they refuse to, I’ll tell you where it went. Six feet into the ground, six feet deep. Six minutes and 20 seconds with an AR-15, and my friend Carmen would never complain to me about piano practice. Aaron Feis would never call Kyra ‘Miss sunshine,’ Alex Schachter would never walk into school with his brother Ryan, Scott Beigel would never joke around with Cameron at camp, Helena Ramsay would never hang around after school with Max, Gina Montalto would never wave to her friend Liam at lunch, Joaquin Oliver would never play basketball with Sam or Dylan. Alaina Petty would never, Cara Loughren would never, Chris Hixon would never, Luke Hoyer would never, Martin Duque Anguiano would never, Peter Wang would never, Alyssa Alhadeff would never, Jamie Guttenberg would never, Jamie Pollack would never”.
Transcript Of Emma Gonzalez’s March For Our Lives Speech.
Emma González then fell silent for six minutes twenty seconds. The power of that silence was deafening.
“Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting, and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.” Emma González
Following the demo, the March For Our Lives Movement embarked upon a national tour across America to educate and encourage young people to register to vote. Now, seven months later, and with the US midterm elections swiftly approaching, has the March For Our Lives movement had any effect? We will just have to wait, see and pray.
Enough is enough!