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March for Our Lives: A Story in Pictures

As hundreds of thousands marched nationwide in support of tighter gun control legislation, some snapshots of the people behind the message

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

“When Will Enough Be Enough?” read one of countless signs hoisted in a crowd of activists who came to the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Saturday. The event, conceived after last month’s mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman High School, drew a crowd of more than 200,000. With wrenching speeches and musical performances by Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson and Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others, the day took on the feel of civic performance; a plea to the country through television. But in the crowd, the march was also a feverish, populist scrum, with parents, students, teachers, children – and inevitably, survivors of the dead – mobilizing to express a personal message, sometimes exasperation, sometimes heartbreak, sometimes outrage.

In the early hours, students poured out of Washington’s metro stations. “It’s the first time our age group has really entered into the conversation,” Krystal Perotti, a young high school teacher in New York and graduate of Sandy Hook High School tells Rolling Stone. “I think we’ve become much better organized [since Sandy Hook],” she adds. She had arrived with the activist group Sandy Hook Promise: At the end of the block stood a team organizer, waving marchers through crosswalks like drum majors. “Organization matters,” she went on. “We know that policy change is not going to happen overnight.”

Just like their parents, millennials’ views on guns, according to polls, are decidedly mixed. While activists poured into Pennsylvania Avenue, a long line of high school students assembled outside Ford’s Theater (where Lincoln was shot) – a school field trip from Huron, Ohio. A few crimson “Make America Great Again” hats dotted the line. “Absolutely not,” said one junior, Max, who wore the hat and was surrounded by male buddies, when asked if he supported the marchers. “They can go ahead and march, but it’s not going to do much.” 

Guns are more common in Huron, the group explained; “Like that time under your grandfather’s bed!” one student shouted. He hooked a thumb at a young boy. “He was looking for Easter Eggs, and under his grandfather’s bed was an AR-15.” The boy shuffled nervously. “Actually, it was an AK-47,” he replied, a murmur met with nervous laughter. Finally, one freshman, eyeing the protestors who marched by, spoke up. “Who really needs this giant ass rifle just to defend their home?” he asked. “I perfectly support people having guns. But they don’t need these big war machines.”

If speaking out was the measure of success, then the March For Our Lives fulfilled its mission. Getting the country to listen, though, will be difficult, and legislating a solution harder still. “But look around you,” said one woman in a volunteer’s uniform. “Thousands of teenagers are out protesting. On a Saturday.” Her words were quickly drowned out in the chants of “Vote Them Out,” and her face fell behind a sign that read, “We: March. You: Listen.” For a time on Saturday, it felt as though the country just might.

Rolling Stone captured a few of the marchers, signs and messages below.

All photos by Jessica Lehrman

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

“It Shouldn’t Be Easier to Buy a Gun Than Rent a Car”

Jeannette Rodriguez, 39

Silver Spring

“It was a robbery. They shot him in the head,” Rodriguez recalls of her father’s death, in 1998. She was 19 at the time. “Too many bad people have guns,” Rodriguez added. “It shouldn’t be easier to buy a gun than it is to rent a car. It’s crazy.”

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

Remembering All Victims

Lexi Brown, 16. Colyr Trimble, 16. Maddy Kessler, 15.

Washington, D.C.

“I didn’t want the focus just to be on white victims of gun violence,” says Trimble, center. “This is intersectional feminism. It needs to be about everything.”

The students have been going to area protests, ever since a school walkout organized shortly after Trump’s election. “This is kind of our social life,” laughs Brown, far left. “It’s important to be out for everything.”

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

NRA Gets Their Side Out

Steve Brown, 57

Not everyone came to support the march. Steve Brown, an NRA member who came to take pictures of signs and see the crowd, said he wasn’t perturbed by the size of the march. “We vote on one issue only: gun rights,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to help my side for sure – to motivate us to get out to vote.”

“Gerrymandered districts protect members of Congress,” Brown continued. “And I like it that way.” He shrugged. “That’s why these things don’t matter.”

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

The Youth Vote Mobilizes

The theme of future voters resonated through the protests with chants – “Vote them out!” – and signs like the one above.

“I’ll be 18 in less than a year. I’ll vote in 2020,” one high school junior said. “And so many kids who are 18 now are we’re going to start voting in 2018.”

Said another parent: “People are realizing this is a generation of kids that will vote soon. These things matter.”

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

The 9-Year-Old Activist

James Porter, 9

Bethesda, Maryland

Students from the Washington, D.C. area flocked to the march – and not all were in high schools. “We’re here to stop gun violence,” says James Porter, age 9. “To see kids out marching, trying to make things better, it’s pretty cool.”

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

‘Lock, Down, Hide, Shot, Die’

Keisha Jacobs and daughter Lica, 6

Brooklyn, New York

“I wanted my kids to see the young people doing something about a problem that they face,” says Jacobs. Her sign offered a collage cut-out of kindergarten vocabulary words: Lock, down, hide, shot, die. “All these words on this list are words that she knows,” says Jacobs.

“These kids have shown that they have a voice, and they’re going to be voting this year,” she added. “Something feels different this time.”

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

‘Are Guns More Precious Than Us?’

Peyton Deem, 6

Cleveland, Ohio

Some families flew from across the country to join the protest. The march is the first trip to Washington for Peyton Deem, 6. Deem got the idea for her sign “from the kids at my school,” she says, where her mother is a public school administrator. (The sign is mom’s handiwork.)

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

Elbow-to-Elbow Crowds

The crowd in Washington, which at times was elbow-to-elbow, was estimated at 200,000; more than 800 events were planned in all 50 states. Above, protestors crammed into Navy Memorial Plaza, across from one satellite stage, where local vendors tossed free lunch meals to the crowd.

march for our lives washington DC gun control

Jessica Lehrman for RollingStone.com

‘Am I Next?’

Dymaris Butler, 14

Columbia, Maryland

“Imagine walking into school every day and thinking of the possibility of getting shot,” says Butler, who came with a few friends from Widelake High School in Maryland. “It obviously scares us.”

She adds, “If you ask an adult who went to school 20 years ago, and ask them if they had to do the drills that we have to do, they say no.”

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