Hundreds of thousands of young activists descended on Washington DC to send a message to the White House: gun violence is out of control, and this generation will no longer be silent.

Hundreds of thousands of young activists descended on Washington DC to send a message to the White House: gun violence is out of control, and this generation will no longer be silent. Huck spoke to teens - many backed by their parents - on why this protest marks a watershed moment.

Hundreds of thousands of young activists descended on Washington DC on Saturday to advocate for gun control, rallying together down Pennsylvania Avenue to chants of ‘Enough is enough.’

The rally - one of 800 across the US and abroad – comes a month after 17 students were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The protestors were led by students who survived the attack, including Emma Gonzalez who has emerged at the forefront of this fierce young movement calling for tighter gun control.

As the sea of demonstrators came to a standstill outside the White House, the student activists delivered a series of emotive speeches. But it was Gonzalez who really hammered home the urgency of today’s protest. After naming the 17 students who died on February 14, the young activist paused for six minutes and 20 seconds – the time it took for the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, to commit the murders – uniting the crowd in a state of awe as tears streamed down her face.

Activists as young as 11 shared powerful stories of losing loved ones to gun violence, while organisers from Stoneman Douglas, like Cameron Kasky, articulated the movement’s demands: universal background checks and bans on assault rifle weapons like that used in the Florida attack.

It’s estimated that 800,000 people turned out in Washington DC alone – thousands more gathered in New York City, San Francisco, and cities across the US – making this the country’s largest mass demonstration since last year’s Women’s March. Teens travelled to the capital from all over the country, many joined and backed by their parents.

President Trump, meanwhile, was thought to be playing golf in Florida at his Mar a Lago estate.

Photographer Gabriela Bhaskar was out to meet them as they marched, and find out what brought them here.

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Stratton Carr, 15
Greensboro, NC
“This issue is something that has been hidden away and now that it’s been brought to light. I want to contribute. I haven’t experienced gun violence at school, but I’m lucky.”

Jonathan Carr, 44
“My kids expressed interest and I want to do whatever I can to support them. If we don’t help them make their voices heard, who’s going to?”

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Jamie Taglang, 16
Haverton, PA
“My inspiration to be here today was Parkland after the tragic events that happened there and their courage. I think it’s important for us (young people) to get involved because very soon, we’ll be adults and need to make decisions.”

Lisa Taglang, 46
“My son was politically active before I was. He organized 45 students to come together at his school. It’s important for young people to be politically active because they’re the ones who will pick up the mantle to ensure they are getting what they want. Our kids are seeing us getting involved because we have to. If there’s one positive thing about the what’s happening in our country it’s that young people are standing up.”

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Lila Murray, 17 (centre)
Maryland
“I felt like I couldn’t be heard in my school. That’s why I’m here. All students should be able to attend school and be safe.”

Sophie Murray, 14 (left)
“I’m here because I thought it would be a good cause. It shows young people care and want their voices heard and want to be safe at school. We’ve had threats at our school. We’ve been in multiple lockdowns. It started out scary but now it’s normal.”

Lisa, 50 (right)
“I feel like we live in a democracy and people should speak their minds. It’s important for us because I want my kids to feel safe at school. When I drop them off, I don’t want to worry about them.”

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Annie Smith, 14
Chapel Hill, NC
“We are the future of our country. We will have to deal with (the effects) of what our government is currently doing now.”

Amy Chambless, 48
“I come from an activist family. It was an inspiration to see an issue that my daughter was interested in. It is important for me to let her take the lead, and support her.”

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Walter Moak, 14
Charlottesville, VA
“I sent a letter to Representative Tom Garret asking for sensible gun legislation and to improve security in schools. Most people who are politically active youth become adults who are politically active. Because we can’t vote, it’s important for us to show up.”

Dr. James Moak, 51
Emergency Physician
“I want him to follow his own moral compass and he wanted to be here today. Personally, as an emergency physician, I’ve had to tell too many people their loved ones have been killed from gunshot wounds. The NRA supported gag rules to prevent doctors from discussing guns and gun safety with patients. Until recently, in Florida, there use to be legislation fining doctors for discussing guns. The NRA shouldn’t be encouraging politicians to shut doctors up.”

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Kya Woods, 11
“We can show how we should be able to feel safe at school and just in general. I’m here so I can realise what is going on in the world and make a difference.”

Karima Woods, 42
“I want to teach my daughters to be engaged and to stand in the gap for those that can’t be here. I want make sure when they’re in a position to make a difference that they are aware of how their decisions impact everyone.”

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Charlotte Zeitlin, 14
Kent Island, MD
“I don’t think it’s right that we have to have so many drills in school. I can never tell what’s real anymore. We had a bomb threat. They are kind of normal, which is sad.”

Heather Zeitlin, 43
“We have to deal with the same issues my daughter has to deal with. I teach at Annapolis High School. We have violence at our school. We had a student bring a gun to school. The community I work in experiences gun violence regularly.”

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Gillian Gessert, 12
“I want to make a chance. I don’t want to live in fear.”

Dave Gessert, 47
“It’s horrible that kids are being shot at school. Adolescence is already hard. Adding assault-style weapons is dangerous. I want my daughter to grow up safely. We talk about this at home. If we don’t take part (in the movement), we won’t see change.”

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Elisa Matson, 14
Alexandria, VA
“I need to know what’s happening so when I grow up, I can make a change. I can voice my opinon and spread awareness. We’ve had lockdowns at my school before and it’s really scary.”

Nelly Deluca, 44
“The safety of my kids is my priority. I’m from Europe and we don’t have this problem there. It’s important for me to know my daughter is safe.

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Reeve Lounsbury, 14
Libertyville, IL
“I don’t believe anyone should have to die from gun violence. So many lives can be changed if we acted. It makes me want to help people. Our school made it clear that they didn’t want us to take action.”

Mother
“I told her that if you believe in it (the walkout), we’ll deal with the consequences. I asked her, ‘What matters more to you, getting a detention or standing up for what you believe?’”

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Ronan Kremer, 14
Columbia, MD
“I’m here to show that we can make a difference. That our voices can be heard to make this a better country.”

Lisa Turner, 42
“I believe it’s important for his voice to be heard. He has things to say and I want to support him. I want to protect him and be part of a group of people who stand up for equality. We just saw Martin Luther King Jr. III. It was a great experience for him. They (parents of Parkland victims) sent their kids to school and they aren’t coming home. There is nothing else we can to but to be here.”

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Giselle Mayokas, 17
Washington, DC
“I want protect future generations and use my voting power to help people like me and to use the privilege I have.”

Mimi Mayorkas, 12
“No one should be afraid to go to school or worry if it’s the last time you see your parents because you get shot or killed. You should go to school to learn.”

Tanya Mayorkas, 50
Civil Rights Lawyer
“I brought them here today, so they know how much power they have; that every person can make a difference, no matter who they are. To politicize them to make their own voices heard.”

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Clara Nathan, 12 (left)
“I want to make sure my voice is heard. I want to make change. I don’t want people to keep getting hurt.”

Lily Nathan, 12 (right)
“I’m here to protect my student rights, to make a difference and to make sure that my voice is heard.”

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Amelia Pulliam, 11 (left) 
“I feel like I should feel safe in my school and not worried that I’ll be killed by a gun.”

Michelle Pulliam, 35 (stepmother)
“It’s important to get youth involved to show them how things world. The earlier we start the process, we can start to work for things to change.”

Cecelia Pulliam, 10
“It’s not the schools that need to change. It’s the gun laws.”

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Hanna Mojda, 16
Fairfax, VA
“Change is important. It’s important for Congress to know this is a democracy and we will use it in our favor to get our point across and our views expressed.”

Hanifa Mojda, 45
“The need to see how powerful they are. They may be young and dismissed but they need to know that the power is in their hands. We are a collective force to make change. Not only to stand up with the victims of these shootings but also to take a stand to say we are not ok with this.”

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Wandally Vargas, 17
Garfield, NJ
“We need to express ourselves while we can. We’re taken as a joke. Older people don’t think we’re old enough to promote change, make something happen and have passion for something.”

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Laila Salaam, 16
Mount Laurel, NJ
“I’m here because I’m a high school student and something like this (Parkland shooting) could happen in my community. We’re here to make a difference in how the government keeps our students safe.”

Veronica Salaam, 45
“We try to be active in our community. As a Black woman, it’s important we draw attention to this issue because it’s been affecting our community. We live near Camden, NJ and it’s notoriously known for gun violence like Chicago is. I’m also the daughter of a police officer and have lived closed to gun violence. I’m taking this opportunity to bring this issue to the forefront. She’s (Laila) working on a congressional campaign and that’s also why I brought her here.”

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Viviana Hernandez, 19 (left)
Woodbrige, VA
“We are the future generation and will decide how things are run.”

Anthony Argueta, 18
“I hear about school shootings happening way too often. Not even just in the media. A friend of mine told me about one in Maryland this week. For him to mention it so casually and so normally, that shouldn’t be a thing.”

Alejandra Argueta, 34
“It’s infuriating to know my kids aren’t safe in school. It’s unjust and immoral that we live in a society that this is the norm. We come from an immigrant family. My parents made sacrifices so my sister and I could have a better future and live in a free society. I want to know they (her children) have every right to engage as citizens and that no one can take that away from them.”

Gianina Argueta, 13
“It’s not fair that kids are being killed and that they aren’t being heard. That 12-13- 14 olds are coming to the stage and are not being heard. It doesn’t make sense that they (youth) understand but adults and the government can’t understand that we need change.”

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Ezra Hall, 13
Columbia, MD
“My parents forced me to be here but I’m counter-protesting. I believe that it’s part of our Constitutional right for people to have guns for their safety. I think people are afraid of guns because they have never really seen a gun. I don’t think this protest will get much accomplished.”

Richard Hall, 56
“I’ve seen a lot of gun violence and access to firearms without responsibility. I’m an auctioneer and have handled guns. I’ve worked with people who are responsible but I’ve also worked with people who have killed themselves. I was two doors down from a shopkeeper who was killed by a gun. There has to be responsibility. There is a lot of legislation for driving but with guns, we don’t have that. People have the right to own guns but people also have the right to safety.”

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Georgia Kelley, 14
Delaware
“Too many kids are getting killed. As more people come, more change will come. I didn’t want to come but I’m glad I did. I thought we’d just ride our bikes but this is moving.”

Patrick Kelley, 50
“I want to support this movement and I want her to see it. I didn’t get enough of that when I was young. I want her to think for herself. I’m a little nervous that this is ‘daddy’ ideas’ and not her own.”

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Elena Rivas, 52
Cambridge, MA
“It’s obvious why we’re here. It’s important to raise someone who does the right thing.”

Coro Eddy, 13
“This is a piece of history. We are the future. We will be the change soon.”

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Hosnieh Sultani, 13 (left)
“The Government is not willing to do anything about gun violence. We have to stand up.”

Samira Ali, 11 (centre)
“We have never been heard before. I am going to school not knowing if I’m safe.”

Samaneh Ali, 16 (right)
“It’s important for me to speak up against violence. It’s been ignored for too long. It’s amazing all the young people that have come out today. It shows how far we’ve come. We still have a long way to go.”

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Amelia Harris, 11
Did a TedxYouth about “What is students were educated in civics at a younger age”
Columbus, OH
“I’m here so people know that there’s hope for the future because we are the future. So when we grow up we are prepared.”

Galen Harris, 40
“I need her to know that she’s the future and that she has the power to bring change. This is her third march. If they don’t know how the system works, and how to change it if it’s broken, we’re doomed for history to repeat itself. They will find their voice through activism.”

 

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Teegan Dupler-Zahrndt, 11
Columbus, OH
“I’m here so that people notice that we are important and guns aren’t really.”

Lisa Dupler, 46 (right)
“We wanted her to see how significant events like this are and to be a part of change now. When the phone rings and the school calls, it used to be that she had a skinned knee not a shooting.”

Nicole Zahrndt, 39 (left)
“She needs to see that she has to get out to vote and get out in our local community. These young people are showing her that you have to be the change.”

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Claudio Carruso, 12
Near Philadelphia, PA
“I wanna show I support this cause because I want to make a difference. My mom showed me the Emma Gonzalez speech. I was inspired by how brave she was. My dad’s a Vietnam-era combat veteran and he gave away his guns after hearing her speech. I was shocked and surprised. It was really inspiring.”

Jane Dewitt, 52
“He has an AR-15, a pump action shotgun and a 40-caliber glock. As soon as he saw the Emma Gonzalez, ‘I call B.S.’ Speech, he decided to relinquish his guns. I regretted not bringing her to the Women’s March. This seemed important to me. It’s really important for her to see youth
coming together to make a difference.”

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Nancy Fromm, 76 (grandmother, left)
“She’s already a leader. She’s on the debate teams. She’ll know both sides rather than one side. You need to understand both sides of the story to make the change you want.”

Abby Ferguson, 12
Arlington, VA
“It’s unfair. As a student, I want to feel safe.”

Melissa Ferguson, 51
“This generation has an opportunity to make a difference like no other generation.”

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Janice Blitz, 47 (left)
“This is going to be their world one day and it’s important for them to be involved. They really do care. A lot of adults forget about how they felt as young people.”

Payton Albers, 15
Laurel, MD
“My school held a rally and they scheduled a meet-up here to see the difference we could make. This cause affects us directly, on a daily basis. It really hits home.”

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Katherine Wilkens, 13
Wayne, NJ
“I want to support my friends. My school didn’t do anything to support the students who lost their lives. When we grow up, we’re going to have to be engaged anyways. I’d rather start young.”

Laura Wilkens, 48
“They’ve had a lot of frustration over the issue. This was a productive way for Kat to have a say on the issue. They’re the future. I don’t want them to learn everything from one source. I want them to make their own decision.”

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