ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, groups of Minnesotans gathered for the March for Our Lives Saturday at the state Capitol. Police estimate at least 18,000 marchers made it safely through the city.
The march was one of hundreds organized by students and survivors of gun violence in all 50 states. The national day of action called for lawmakers to “make students’ lives and safety a priority and to pass common-sense gun safety legislation,” according to a release from Students Demand Action.
Students and supporters began marching at 9:30 a.m. from St. Paul’s Harriet Island to the state Capitol. There, families and supporters joined for a rally. There were also marches planned in Duluth, Brainerd, Grand Rapids, Mankato East, Rochester, Willmar and Winona.
Organizers said there were more than 700 marches planned throughout the U.S., along with several cities worldwide.
“We students are marching to demand that Congress pass a comprehensive and effective bill addressing gun violence. During our march in Saint Paul, we will register young people eligible to vote this November. Marchers can use their phones to pledge to vote, and we’ll follow up with them after the march. We intend to use our power, electing candidates who will pass gun laws to protect students from gun violence. On the Minnesota Capitol steps, student speakers and others will tell our experiences with gun violence,” the release stated.
In the past month, thousands of Minnesota students have staged school walkouts throughout the state.
“We refuse to accept the status quo, knowing that every day in our country, 96 people are fatally shot. Gun-related deaths are the third leading cause of deaths for American children and teenagers. Each year, nearly 1,400 children and teens (under age 18) are shot and killed. Another 7,000 kids and teens are shot and injured,” the release said.
Ana Hymson, a 2015 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who moved to Minnesota and graduated from McNally Smith in 2017, has reached out to friends and students at her alma mater. "I feel the need to do as much as I can from here for my community at home in Florida," Hymson said in the release.
Students weren't the only ones holding signs and yelling for change. Teachers also joined in. Jackie Schaaf, a third grade teacher in Shakopee made a sign to portray how many teachers in the metro feel about guns in schools.
"I would never be comfortable to be armed as a teacher," Schaaf said. "Teachers should never be armed--that is not a solution to solve this problem. Including more guns in schools is not going to fix this."
"We still need to do more--this can't be the end, this is just the beginning," said Ishani Roy Chowdhury, a junior at Wayzata High School.
Moms Demand Action Minnesota Chapter, Protect Minnesota, Women’s March Minnesota and other groups provided support to the student-led march.
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John, Abigail and I are at the march in D.C. The sun is shining on the hundreds of thousands of students as well as the cause whose time has come. Thirteen marches in Minnesota today! We must pass sensible gun legislation. #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/mfZtl9E899— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) March 24, 2018