There was only one message that could be undoubtedly interpreted during last Saturday’s gun control rally at the steps of the Broward County U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Only one sentence shouted by a chorus of over a thousand voices: Never again.
“Everyone at the event was extremely supportive of one another and happy to see so many people with the same feelings,” junior Amelia Wesley said. “Everyone was also visibly grieved and angry which helped to fuel the movement. I think it went wonderfully because we all left with the desire to make sure that there is never a need for an event like this again.”
“Everyone was also visibly grieved and angry which helped to fuel the movement.”
Put together only days after the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) which claimed 17 lives of students and faculty at the hands of a former student, the protest brought together hundreds of emotional students, parents, politicians and educators to call for stricter policies and regulations concerning gun ownership. At least a dozen CCHS students attended the protest and stood at the sidelines as they watched history unfold in front of them.
“I think they [politicians] are definitely starting to hear us now,” junior Julia Oldershaw said. She held aloft a sign at the rally, reading “We don’t need thoughts and prayers! We need gun control!”
Beginning at 1 p.m. and continuing for several hours, the protest was lead by several speakers, many of who were the very students now responsible for leading the national “Never Again” movement. MSD senior Emma Gonzalez made her now-viral “We call BS” speech, in which she directly called out the politicians she felt were responsible for inaction, her voice at times cracking or rising to a scream.
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks,” she said. “Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because… we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
Broward educators, such as Superintendent Robert Runcie and Anna Fusco, the president of the Broward Teachers Union, also took to the podium to call for common sense gun laws and political action. Several elected officials, including organizer State Senator Gary Farmer and Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich, reiterated the message.
“We’ve got to vote. We’ve got to vote. We’ve got to vote,” Runcie said, encouraging the crowd to get others involved. “If there’s no vote, this is just going to be a bunch of noise.”
They obliged, breaking into impassioned chants of “Vote them out!”
“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because… we are going to be the last mass shooting.”
The crowd of hundreds roared in support of the speakers, breaking into chant several times and cheering as vechicular passerbys honked their horns in solidarity. Standing for hours on end, the crowd spilled past the center of the courthouse onto the streets, as mounted officers patrolled the streets and directed traffic.
CCHS students are not at the center of this dialogue, but it seems many of them refuse to sit back and simply look on as change unfolds.
“Perhaps I could add my voice to the millions of other voices around the country who are trying to voice for change,” senior John Lystad said.
Photos by Sabrine Brismeur