Northeast Georgians joined people nationwide in marching against gun violence on Saturday.
March for Our Lives rallies were held across the United States. The main rally was held in Washington D.C. where an estimated 200,000 people gathered for a student-led protest. Original crowd estimates from organizers had put that number at around 800,000.
They were joined by hundreds of thousands more who took part in approximately 800 sister marches in cities and towns across the country.
The rallies were organized in the wake of the fatal Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, students have organized under the social media hash tag “Never Again.” During the D.C. rally, shooting survivors made impassioned pleas to Congress to pass stricter gun control laws.
Some people traveled from Northeast Georgia to participate in the D.C. march.
In Atlanta, about 30,000 people turned out to support the cause. They marched from the Center for Civil and Human Rights to the state capitol.
An estimated crowd of 400 gathered in Athens, according to the Athens Banner Herald. The crowd included students from the University of Georgia, local high school, and elementary schools.
Marchers turned out in rural Georgia, too.
In Clarkesville, people gathered at the gazebo downtown. They carried signs and publicly appealed to lawmakers to do something about the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.
A similarly sized crowd gathered at the historic courthouse in downtown Dahlonega.
A building wave
The rallies in Georgia are especially notable, considering generally strong southern support for gun rights and the National Rifle Association. One marcher said a few NRA members showed up at the Clarkesville rally on Saturday, but marchers were not deterred.
Josh McCall was among those who attended the Clarkesville rally. McCall, of Martin, Georgia, is running as a Democrat for the 9th District U.S. House seat currently held by Republican Doug Collins of Hall County. “What we saw today was a blue wave – not just of Democrats, but of peace, justice, and goodwill,” says McCall. “This is a tough district to talk gun reform in, but it gets easier when people show up like they did today.”
Clarkesville march organizer Virginia Webb says, “This is not an anti-2nd Amendment movement. We are looking at sensible gun reform that respects the 2nd Amendment.”
Webb says she was heartened by the number of people who turned out Saturday – 170 by organizers’ count. The crowd included students and teachers. “For more than one hour we listened to students from high school and colleges tell of the need to go to school in an environment where they do not worry if someone is going to march into their class and start shooting,” says Webb.
Referring to themselves as “the Mass Shooting Generation” the students who spoke echoed the the sentiment of the day that ‘Enough is Enough.’
“We are on the right side of life, pro-life in fact and not just in our slogans,” McCall says. “We want to save lives from needless danger through sensible gun legislation that preserves our 2nd amendment rights and protects the innocent.”
March for Our Lives
Clarkesville • Dahlonega
Saturday, March 24, 2018
This article has been updated to include revised D.C. crowd estimates