Why We March: Ten Thousand People Took to Downtown Raleigh Streets to Say Enough Is Enough | News Feature | Indy Week

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Why We March: Ten Thousand People Took to Downtown Raleigh Streets to Say Enough Is Enough

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Saturday morning dawned in downtown Raleigh with biting cold and the sound of shrill whistles as some ten thousand protesters, bundled up against the wind, crowded together on the 400 block of Fayetteville Street. Holding brightly colored signs that declared "Fear Has No Place in School" and "We Deserve Better," the crowd waited to begin its advance from City Plaza to Halifax Mall, the scheduled site for the rally to follow the Raleigh March for Our Lives. (A few hours later, several thousand more demonstrators would gather at CCB Plaza in Durham.)

Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that claimed seventeen lives on Valentine's Day, Saturday's protest was one of many that took place across the world, including a massive rally in Washington, D.C., that drew upward of eight hundred thousand people.

Led by its two high school student organizers, Amber Mitchell and Lauren Smith, the Raleigh march wound through nearly a mile downtown with protesters chanting condemnations of gun violence, the NRA, and spineless lawmakers who do the bidding of their gun-lobby masters. (Hey there, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.)

Mitchell and Smith said they were blown away the response from the Triangle.

"It's amazing," Smith said. "I never thought that there would be this many people here, and I just can't believe it."

Sophie Flynn, fourteen, is tired of gun violence in schools. "Lawmakers need to open their eyes." - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Sophie Flynn, fourteen, is tired of gun violence in schools. "Lawmakers need to open their eyes."


Organizers Lauren Smith and Amber Mitchell are fifteen-year-old Wake County students. "I just want people to know that things may seem big, but if one person just has a goal and gets other people involved, then we can make things happen," Mitchell says. Smith agrees: "We want [legislators] to know that we're serious, and if they don't take us seriously, we will be voting very soon." - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Organizers Lauren Smith and Amber Mitchell are fifteen-year-old Wake County students. "I just want people to know that things may seem big, but if one person just has a goal and gets other people involved, then we can make things happen," Mitchell says. Smith agrees: "We want [legislators] to know that we're serious, and if they don't take us seriously, we will be voting very soon."


A Raleigh marcher holds up a sign with Parkland student Emma González's rallying cry. - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • A Raleigh marcher holds up a sign with Parkland student Emma González's rallying cry.


Sarika Bomma, a forty-nine-year-old new to Raleigh, came to show solidarity with the students who organized these rallies. "Kids are raising their voice and they are the future. I want to show them that they're not alone, so that will motivate them in the future." - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Sarika Bomma, a forty-nine-year-old new to Raleigh, came to show solidarity with the students who organized these rallies. "Kids are raising their voice and they are the future. I want to show them that they're not alone, so that will motivate them in the future."


Six-year-old Ava Brye stands with mother, Shana, a licensed gun owner who is protesting for universal background checks and stricter gun laws. - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Six-year-old Ava Brye stands with mother, Shana, a licensed gun owner who is protesting for universal background checks and stricter gun laws.


Abigail, eight, attended with her family. "We shouldn't have to practice not getting shot in school." - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Abigail, eight, attended with her family. "We shouldn't have to practice not getting shot in school."


Joan Schmitt, eighty, sits with Gail Kennedy, sixty-six. Both are former teachers. "We love kids—and hate this," Kennedy says. - PHOTO BY CAITLIN PENNA
  • Photo by Caitlin Penna
  • Joan Schmitt, eighty, sits with Gail Kennedy, sixty-six. Both are former teachers. "We love kids—and hate this," Kennedy says.


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