Los Angelenos march for their lives

There were 800 marches scheduled throughout the world March 24. An estimated 800,000 people marched in Washington, D.C. — more than the 500,000 that were estimated at the Women’s March there last year. In California, several marches were spread throughout the state, covering San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego. The march in L.A. garnered over 50,000 people who marched from Pershing Square to Grand Park on a cold and cloudy Saturday morning.

The common goal: gun control.


Referred to as “Generation Columbine,” kids born after 1999 grew up learning to hide during active shooter drills, knowing their school could be the next target. The march was largely led by teenagers who claim they’re the most affected by gun violence in the country. Fifteen students and two adults were killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day this year. Since then, 73 teenagers have been killed due to gun violence — in a span no longer than two months.

 

 

 

After the Parkland shooting, survivors turned their grief and anger into resilience, advocacy and a relentless pursuit for gun reform. Emma Gonzales emerged as the face of the #NeverAgain movement after she gave a chilling speech during a memorial for Parkland victims. On Saturday, Los Angelenos marched through downtown chanting “We call B.S.” in reference to Gonzales’ now famous speech.   

Zoe Burney, 10, stood in the corner of Grand Park with a sign saying “A school day shouldn’t be my last day.” She chanted “What do we want?” and waited for her mother to respond, “Gun control!”

While blaming the NRA’s political agenda for the gun problem in America, students campaigned to vote against parties that support the organization during the next election. On Saturday, Grand Park was filled with voter registration booths and information about upcoming elections.

(From left to right) Anna Lee, Siya Shaw, Alanna Dorsey and Shirley Xiao are students at West High School in Torrance. They said they could identify with the students from Parkland since they’re exactly in that age range, so they came to the march in Los Angeles to advocate for their safety and that of other students. “We don’t want to go to school every day, fearing that we won’t come back,” Dorsey said.

 

 

 

Claire Esther Davis was shot by a classmate outside of the library at her high school in Colorado. She passed away in December 2014, and now her friend Joe Winnick (far right) marched with two friends in her name, and those of the many other victims of gun violence. “This is a celebration of her life, we’re carrying this in her honor and for all others who had tragic transitions. We hope them leaving will not be in vain,” Davis said.


But the demand for gun control goes well beyond Parkland. Advocates of the Black Lives Matter movement have long been a part of this conversation, fighting for voices that have been ignored for too long. In Washington D.C., the Parkland students recognized their privilege and shared the stage with members of several underrepresented communities, including Edna Chavez, a student from South L.A. who lost her brother to gun violence.

In response to the pleads for gun control and school safety, President Trump has suggested arming teachers and giving them weapon training in case they face future shooter situations. Edith Pereda, an ESL and religion teacher at La Sierra Academy, said she would be entirely opposed to being armed, feeling that it would be very dangerous for both her and her students.  

Natalia (left) has a four-year-old son. She and her mother, Tatiana (right) are immigrants from Ukraine. They marched because they don’t want to have to worry about Natalia’s son every time he goes off to school.

Eric Johnson, a veteran from the Vietnam War, held up a sign saying “I have seen what guns do.” He said guns have no place in our schools. Although the back of his sign specifically mentioned his grandchildren, Johnson said he was “marching for everyone.”

All photography by Miranda Mazariegos.

Miranda is from Guatemala. She's currently in LA pursuing a degree in journalism with a minor in cinematic arts. She's the editor for the International Desk at USC, and she's passionate about underreported stories about Latin America. She also enjoys binge-watching TV shows, running and writing, writing, writing.