Broward County

March For Our Lives updates from South Florida and Washington

March for Our Lives walk in Parkland

Students and gun control advocates are marching in South Florida, Washington, D.C., and across the world more than a month after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
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Students and gun control advocates are marching in South Florida, Washington, D.C., and across the world more than a month after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

More than 840 rallies were held across the world Saturday — from Miami Beach to Japan — under one common theme: curbing gun violence, especially in schools.

Hundreds of thousands of people, the majority of them teenagers, rallied in the March For Our Lives, inspired by a call to action spearheaded by a group of Parkland, Florida, students after a gunman killed 14 of their classmates and three faculty members on Valentine’s Day. Crowds gathered in all 50 U.S. states and on six continents. The more recognizable student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of last month’s mass shooting, were in Washington, D.C., where tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue for a three-hour rally.

Dozens of sister rallies and marches took place across Florida, the largest of which was just up the street from Stoneman Douglas High School. Elsewhere in South Florida, there were marches from West Palm Beach to Doral.

The Miami Herald had reporters in Washington, D.C., Parkland and Miami-Dade County providing coverage throughout the event.

5:40 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Packed crowds, loud noises. Parkland students confront emotional stress of march

For the hundreds of Stoneman Douglas students who had traveled to Washington, D.C., for the March For Our Lives, the emotion was still raw. When the giant screens flanking the stage flashed images of the 17 victims and news footage from the day of the shooting, some of the students flinched. Others started crying. Read the full story here.

2:45 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Change

Three hours after a series of youths began speaking at the March For Our Lives, punctuated by filmed segments from supportive members of the military and public figures and musical performances by artists such as Miley Cyrus, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt, the rally came to a close.

Jennifer Hudson gave the final performance. As she sang “Wonderful Change” a crowd of speakers gathered on the stage and the whole crowd began chanting “We want change!”

2:30 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Six minutes and 20 seconds

Emma Gonzalez stood silent, except for the sound of her sniffling. As chants from the crowd around her began and ended briefly, she remained quiet. At a certain point, it seems like the crowd understood what was going on.

Tears streamed down her face. She stared ahead.

She said nothing until six minutes and 20 seconds had passed after her brief opening comments — the amount of time it took for the gunman to murder 17 of her classmates and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

A timer she had set rang. She spoke again, explaining how the gunman abandoned his rifle, walked out of the high school and blended with other students. It would be more than an hour later that police arrested him.

She concluded.

“Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”

– Joey Flechas

2:15 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Brother of Sandy Hook victim speaks

Matthew Soto was 15 when he lost his sister in one of the most high-profile mass shooting in recent years.

“At the age of 15, I sat in my high school Spanish class while my sister, Victoria Soto, was being slaughtered in her first grade classroom,” he told the crowd at the March For Our Lives.

Victoria Soto was making gingerbread houses with her students when the gunshots rang out. His remarks touched on the many venues where mass shootings have taken place in the last several years.

“Too many schools. Too many churches. Too many movie theaters. Too many neighborhoods. Too many homes,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

— Joey Flechas

2 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Rubio responds

Florida Senator Marco Rubio was criticized throughout the March For Our Lives Rally on Saturday. Multiple speakers criticized the senator for the thousands of dollars he’s received in political contributions from the National Rifle Association.

In the middle of the event, he responded with the following statement:

“I commend those who today are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to march in favor of a gun ban. While I do not agree with all of the solutions they propose, I respect their views and recognize that many Americans support certain gun bans. However, many other Americans do not support a gun ban. They too want to prevent mass shootings, but view banning guns as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens that ultimately will not prevent these tragedies.

“While protests are a legitimate way of making a point, in our system of government, making a change requires finding common ground with those who hold opposing views. Common ground is how we were able to achieve the STOP School Violence Act, improvements to our background check system, propelling CDC studies on gun violence and now, a ban on bump stocks. And finding common ground is what it will take to pass our red flag law so we can take guns away from dangerous people.”

The statement makes reference to a “gun ban” even though the speakers at the rally advocated for a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, not an all-out ban on firearms.

— Kate Irby

1:45 p.m. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Support abroad

As far away as Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Parkland students and the March for Our Lives had a presence.

About 30 protestors, most of them Americans or Argentines with family in the U.S., marched from the U.S, Embassy on Avenida Sarmiento to the ambassador's residence Saturday morning, carrying hand-made signs and chanting: "No justice. No peace" and "NRA, time to own up. The guns have changed. The laws have not."

The march was organized by Mehrnoosh Arrar, 29, a former Florida resident now living in Buenos Aires, where she is a natural sciences researcher at the University of Buenos Aires. Her sister is a 2014 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Attending the Buenos Aires march was MSD high school freshman Luciana Yanez, who was in Buenos Aires visiting her dad.

"I bought the ticket over winter break, before I knew any of this would happen of course,'' she said. "I was devastated that I wouldn't be able to go to Washington but, thankfully, I found out there would be an event here."

After organizing the March for Our Lives, Arrar attended a second march to commemorate the victims of the Dirty War in which an estimated 30,000 people disappeared from 1974 to 1983, during the reign of the military dictatorship. The Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice is held every March 24 in Argentina.

"I think it's a good thing these marches are on the same day,'' Arrar said Saturday. "The annual march here is always a time to be thankful for our freedom, be conscious of what it costs, and be aware of the tiny political moves that may sway things back in the direction of what led to the military coup here in Argentina. Everyone is very vocal, and I think channeling all that into our March for Our Lives was important."

— Mary Ellen Klas, with Emily Kennedy in Buenos Aires

1:20 p.m. Washington, D.C.: A lighter tone

Not everything at the March For Our Lives has a somber tone. Near the entrance of the march, just a block from the White House, a group called Gays Against Guns has set up a mock runway to “sashay away” the NRA.

Participants took a break from the march to take a stroll down the pathway, dancing and twirling while the crowd cheers them on.


“These politicians act so ridiculous, so we’re going to show them just how ridiculous they really are,” said Aaron Overman, a member of the group from the District of Columbia.

Even if people are sad, he added, “they’re also looking to have fun and meet people.”

— Alex Roarty

1:15 p.m. Parkland: Tens of thousands flood Parkland street as they march to Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Just after 12:30 p.m., a crowd of several thousand gun safety activists — much of them high school age students — began a loud, emotional march to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The activists, yelling a flurry of political chants like “Make Schools Safe Again” and waving signs imploring lawmakers to “Protect Children, Not Guns,” flooded a major roadway in Coral Springs as they made their way from Pines Trail Park to the high school where 17 students and faculty members died during the shooting on Valentine’s Day.

Standing inside the mass of people, one could not see the beginning or end of the crowd.

Walking slowly and quietly with the crowd, 75-year-old Steve Edelstein was reminded of the protests against the Vietnam War. The difference, he said, was that this movement is better organized.

He advised the youth to keep constant pressure on lawmakers.

“Become more involved than my generation and your parents’ generation,” he said.

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Maroon "MSD Strong" T-shirts helped raise money for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas PTSA. Roberto Koltun

Andrea Friedman, the cousin of Nicholas Dworet, a student at Douglas who died, looked on at the crowd while holding up a birthday sign for Nicholas, who would have turned 18 Saturday.

Friedman, a 64-year-old chemotherapy nurse who lives near the school, said she was amazed at how many people showed up.

“It’s very heartwarming to see that apathy is turning into activism,” she said. “It’s heartwarming and very heart wrenching at the same time.”

— Martin Vassolo

1:10 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Stoneman Douglas alumna recalls day of the shooting

Andrea Simon, an alumnus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High from the class of 2005, had traveled from New York to DC with her sister Marissa. Their mother, Alice Simon, had flown in from Coral Springs for the march.

Standing about 10 rows from the stage, where Demi Lovato had just performed, Andrea recalled the day of the shooting. She had watched the tragedy unfold on TV. As Andrea waited for more information about family friends who worked at the school, Andrea’s friend, another New York based Stoneman Douglas alumnus, was frantically texting a boy she used to babysit. He was trapped in a closet at the high school as a gunman stalked the hallways.

“This whole tragedy ... it affects a bigger community than just the school itself,” Andrea said. “I walked those hallways. I see myself there.”

— Kyra Gurney

12:45 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Girl who lost her brother to gun violence in Los Angeles says “Sigue la lucha”

Edna Chavez, 17, shared the experience of losing her brother to gun violence when he was in high school. It was a normal day, she said, sun setting on South Central Los Angeles, when she heard pops like fireworks.

“They weren’t pops,” she said. “You see the melanin on your brother’s skin turn gray.”

She paused as tears streamed down her face. The crowd chanted her brother’s name. Ricardo.

“I lost more than my brother that day. I lost my hero,” she said, adding that the anguish and anxiety from the trauma has stayed with her to this day.

The impassioned speech underscored a theme reverberating through communities of color in the U.S. Gun violence is nothing new.

“It is normal to see flowers honoring the lives of black and brown youth that have lost their lives to a bullet,” she said.

She closed with a message in Spanish.

“La lucha sigue,” she said.

The struggle continues.

— Joey Flechas

12:40 p.m. Washington, D.C.: A broadening platform for youth across the nation

The students who launched the March For Our Lives movement in a Broward County living room were surrounded by a mob of media Saturday ahead of the day’s rally. To the side of a stage, set with the U.S. Capitol behind it as if an afterthought, they said they’ll keep pushing to register young voters and build a movement too big to ignore.

“Marjory Stoneman Douglas kids are the ones who started this, but we’re not going to be the ones who finish it. We have so many people with us,” said Emma González, whose “We call BS” speech has made her something of a gun-control icon, her image printed onto posters hawked by vendors on Pennsylvania Avenue for $5.

To broaden their cause, Parkland students brought in students from Los Angeles, Chicago, Maryland and Virginia. They met Thursday with students at a Washington charter school where two students have been shot and killed this year in off-campus incidents.

“We want to make sure that anyone who wants the platform to speak, who has something important to say, gets a chance,” said Stoneman Douglas student Ryan Deitsch. Kids from around the country, kids from around the world are in that audience.”

Politicians, too. Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Democrats, came and spoke to the media. Wasserman Schultz told the Miami Herald that the movement will have to be led by young people and supported by politicians, not the other way around. Parkland student David Hogg agreed, and said that’s why there won’t be any members of Congress speaking during the rally.

“It’s time for our congressmen, time for our state legislators and time for our American political leaders to stop and listen to us.”

— David Smiley

12:40 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Marco Rubio called out

Stoneman survivor Sarah Chadwick explained the price tags worn by many march participants Saturday.

It’s a direct indictment of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a beneficiary of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.

Many participants in Saturday’s March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., wore these price tags, which represent the number of students in Florida schools divided by the amount of money Rubio in support from the National Rifle Association. Kate Irby

Each price tag has $1.05 printed on it. It’s the number of students in Florida schools divided by the amount of money Rubio in support from the NRA.

“Is that how much we’re worth to you, Marco Rubio?” asked Chadwick.

— Joey Flechas

12:25 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Communities of color have been been hurt by gun violence for years

Chicago resident Trevon Bosley, whose brother Terrell Bosley was shot and killed a decade ago, takes the stage and shares startling statistics on gun violence in Chicago. He said more than 5,850 people have been shot and killed there since 2006.

“We deserve to live a life without fear of being gunned down ... it’s time to care about all communities equally,” he said.

Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, named each of the 17 students killed in the massacre. He addressed politicians who do not support reforms to gun laws in the U.S.

“Stand with us or beware – the voters are coming,” he said.

— Joey Flechas

12:15 p.m. Washington, D.C.: Parkland students ushered to the front of the crowd

Marjory Stoneman Douglas students chanted “Who are we?” “MSD!” as they made their way to the stage on 3rd St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Crowds, recognizing them as the Parkland students, made a path for them to get to the front.

Hands reached out to touch the students and alumni. Students high-fived as they passed, and people said, “thank you,” “change the world,” and “bless you.” People asked for pictures as movement stalled, but eventually the kids got to the front – and were granted prime access to the stage by showing their student IDs.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Enzo Yara, a 17-year-old senior at MSD. “I’m really having a hard time describing it.”

— Kate Irby

Noon, Washington, D.C.: “We’re going to change the world for him.”

Stoneman Douglas seniors Garrett Knobel, 18, and Sammy Feuerman, 17, were thinking about their friend Joaquin Oliver as they waited by the stage at the March For Our Lives.

If Joaquin had survived the shooting, they were both sure he’d be up on the stage fighting for his classmates.

“He’s always been an activist,” Sammy said. “He’s always wanted to change the world.”

“We’re going to change the world for him,” he added.

Garrett agreed.

“I want to make sure he died to change the world and that’s honestly why I’m here,” he said.

— Kyra Gurney

11:54 a.m., Doral, Florida: “School safety is not a political issue.”

In West Miami-Dade, a crowd hoisting signs is chanting “What do we want? Change! When do you want it? Now!”

A group of students in blue March For Our Lives T-shirts hold a banner that said “School safety is not a political issue.”

— Joey Flechas

11:35 a.m., Washington, D.C.: Large crowd stretching back several blocks

The huge turnout for the March for Lives is so large that demonstrators will not be able to march, according to a CNN commentator. The crowd has engulfed much of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here’s a view from several blocks away.

— Alex Roarty

11:30 a.m., Parkland: “Not in vain.” Father of slain high-schooler delivers emotional speech

The father of Alex Schachter, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who died last month during a school shooting, delivered an emotional speech to a crowd of thousands at a rally in Parkland on Saturday.

Fighting back tears, Max Schachter told the March for Our Lives crowd, a sea of protesters calling for gun reform, that he missed his former life, where his only real concerns were managing the amount of time his son spent playing the video game “Fortnite.”

“On February 13, I was just like any other parent,” he said.

In the weeks since the shooting, Schachter said his world view has changed and that his life’s mission was now centered on shoring up school campuses and working for gun reform.

“The bottom line is our voices are being heard,” he said. “The beautiful lives lost have not and will not be in vain.”

— Martin Vassolo

11:25 a.m., Across the U.S.: Thousands gather; The White House issues statement

The Associated Press estimates 20,000 people have gathered in Parkland for the March for Our Lives. Thousands more are marching in cities across the U.S.

In Phoenix, students Jordan Harb of Mountain View High School in Mesa and Samantha Lekberg of Willow Canyon High School in Surprise issued statements in advance of the rally that they and others plan Saturday at the state Capitol.

Harb says “it’s time to save our children and our country’s future,” while Lekberg says the event isn’t political driven but is a statement from the country’s youth “that the killing must end.”

In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner has told several thousand people demonstrating for stricter gun control that adults have a responsibility to stand up and protect all children.

Turner spoke Saturday morning at a rally at Tranquillity Park as part of the nationwide “March for Our Lives” following deadly gunfire last month at a school in Parkland, Florida.

Turner chanted with the crowd “Now is the time” to “Do the right thing.”

In New York, tens of thousands of demonstrators have turned out. Speaking at the Manhattan event were Sam Hendler and Meghan Bonner, two classmates who survived the Stoneman Douglas massacre.

Hendler read the names of the victims and asked the crowd to honor them with a moment of silence. Bonner wept as she recalled the day of the shooting. She told demonstrators that she wasn’t surprised when she learned the identity of the shooter because it was obvious something was wrong with him and said there was more that could have been done to stop him.

As demonstrations began across the country, the White House released a statement late Saturday morning praising the young people who were marching.

“We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in the statement. “Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the President’s.”

— Associated Press

11:10 a.m., Miami Beach: Learning of a friend’s death

A young coordinator of the Miami Beach rally recounted the moment she learned one of her friends was killed at Stoneman Douglas.

11 a.m., Miami Beach: “Today is the day we take on the establishment.”

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo incited cheers from the crowd gathered in Collins Park when he called for an end to gun violence with pointed words for gun rights advocates.

“Today is the day we take on the establishment!” he yelled. “Today is the day we take on the gun lobby and stand for kids!”

Shortly after, Bob Marley’s grandson, Jo Mersa Marley, took the stage to perform “Get Up, Stand Up.”

— Joey Flechas

10:45 a.m., Parkland: Student has a message for the gunman: You didn’t win.

Autumn McKinney wants Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz to know what he started.

The 15-year-old Coral Glades High student, whose friend at Stoneman Douglas stared down the barrel of Cruz’s AR-15 last month when he opened fire at school, said she wanted the gunman to see the outpouring of love and activism his evil sparked.

“I want him to know that even though he did something terrible, it started something amazing,” she said. “He didn’t win.”

On the contrary, McKinney’s peers from Parkland helped achieve a victory for gun-control activists when they pushed Florida’s gun-friendly legislature to pass the state’s first new gun restrictions in decades.

But the kids aren’t done yet, she said. Saturday’s rally — and the more than 800 sibling rallies worldwide — is sure to draw media attention from around the world and renew the students’ call for stricter gun laws nationwide.

The goal for many protesters involves a combination of strengthening the federal background check system, banning assault weapons and restricting high-capacity magazines.

Unlike every other school shooting, though, the cause is personal for McKinney and her friend Alexa Couret, whose friend Peter Wang died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

“Something needs to be done,” Couret, 15, said. “I lost a friend.”

—Martin Vassolo

10:40 a.m., Washington, D.C.: Scenes from the streets

The amount of young people marching appears to dwarf the number of adults. Chants of “Who are we?” “MSD!” ring out as students and alumni take to the streets.

Vendors are selling march swag, including posters with the face of survivor Emma Gonzalez, now well-known for her activism since the massacre. Her face is framed by the words “I stand with Emma. We call BS.”

Many participants are stopping by the White House on the way to the location of the rally. Some hold signs saying “Arms are for hugging.”

— Kate Irby, David Smiley and Alex Roarty

10: 30 a.m. Arlingon, Virginia: Survivor marching with surgeon who operated on him

Stoneman Douglas freshman Kyle Laman is in a wheelchair after he was shot in the foot when the gunman opened fire on Valentine’s Day. But today as he prepares for the March for Our Lives, he’s in good company.

Jeff Heinrich, the first police officer Kyle saw after the shooting, is pushing his wheelchair.

The surgeons who operated on Kyle’s foot at Broward Health Medical Center are also marching with him today. They’ve operated on him three times since the shooting with the most recent surgery one week ago.

—Kyra Gurney

10:10 a.m. Parkland: “It’s a big moment in history.”

Thousands of protesters from across the country poured into Pines Trail Park on Saturday morning as a part of a global network of anti-gun violence rallies planned in solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Taylor Allgood, a 16-year-old high schooler from Ashtabula, Ohio, flew down with her friend for the rally, inspired by the student leaders from Florida who helped propel anti-National Rifle Association gun and school safety legislation through the pro-gun legislature.

“We need to get involved because we see the future,” said Allgood, a junior at Lakeside High School in Ohio.

Putting her activism to good use, Allgood pre-registered to vote upon entering the park through the group 16+ Vote, which operates in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

Christina Bracken, the founder of the voter registration group, said she had pre-registered about 50 teenagers as of 9:30 a.m.

If the 30,000 or so voter-age high schoolers in Miami-Dade alone bucked a trend of apathy among young voters and cast their ballots in November, Bracken said it “could basically swing the vote” and have nationwide consequences.

“It’s a big moment in history,” she said, smiling as she gazed upon the sea of wide-eyed young people readying themselves for a day of civil disobedience. “But with anything this is just a marathon or a a relay.”

— Martin Vassolo

10:05 a.m., Arlington, Virginia: Today would have been his 18th birthday

As they ate breakfast at a DoubleTree in Arlington, on Saturday morning, a group of 200 Parkland students grappled with their anxiety over being in a big crowd just over five weeks after the worst high school shooting in U.S. history.

“It still hasn’t even hit me that it’s my school,” said 15-year-old Sierra Damiani. “It’ll be overwhelming for a second” to see hundreds of thousands of people marching, she added, “but it’ll feel glorious at the same time.”

Some of the students were making signs with jarring questions: “How much am I worth?” “Did my classmates die in vain?” “Who in your life would have to die of gun violence for you to support gun control?”

Others said they were marching for one of the 17 victims or for one of their injured classmates.

For senior Aly Sheehy, that was Nicholas Dworet, a classmate who had been killed during the shooting. Today would have been his 18th birthday.

“He’ll be with us when we’re marching,” Sheehy said.

Like her classmates, Sheehy was nervous to be going to the march. Even going to school is still a struggle at this point. “Now I don’t feel safe going to school,” she said. “I don’t feel comfortable. It’s something where every day I have to drag myself.”

— Kyra Gurney

10 a.m. Miami Beach: Solidarity in South Beach

Students, parents and politicians from across Miami-Dade are gathering in at Miami Beach Senior High School for a locally-organized march.

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Participants line up and hold signs during the Walk For Our Lives rally in Miami Beach on Saturday. Daniel A. Varela

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An American flag with a list of the most recent mass shooting in the country is shown holds a T-shirt before the Miami Beach March for Our lives rally on Saturday. Daniel A. Varela

— Joey Flechas

9:55 a.m. Washington, D.C.: Emotional preparation for the march

Hundreds of Majory Stoneman Douglas students, teachers, alumni and parents gathered Saturday morning in a sea of maroon and black at the J.W. Marriott just a few blocks from the White House.

Alumni and students hugged and occasionally wiped away tears, but a sense of excitement and purpose filled the room before the march started, of finally being in D.C. to demand change.

And the message they had for Congress was incredibly unified, from such a large group: Listen to us and pass gun reform, or get ready to be booted in November.

Students and parents alike saw the momentum of the moment as unstoppable, and change as inevitable. Many said gun control would be the main issue that decided their votes in November.

Counselors wore yellow reflective vests so they’d be easy to find in the crowd, and asked those who needed emotional support to check in before the march. One counselor told those who felt they might have a panic attack during the march to touch different textures, like a rock, their clothing and a friend’s shoulder. Anyone who needed more serious help could find a counselor.

— Kate Irby

9:45 a.m. Washington, D.C.: Broward schools chief joining Stoneman Douglas students

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie wakes out of the JW Marquis hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue Saturday morning with a crowd of Stoneman Douglas alumni, hopeful for the future and awed by the crowds flooding toward a March For Our Lives stage at the far end of the street.

“This is a culmination of the inspiration our students have shown us, their passion. I consider our students really authentic. They don’t have an agenda. They’re just really trying to do the right thing to help save their generation,” he said, walking with School Board Member Abby Freedman on one arm and his wife on the other.

Though there are several marches in Broward County Saturday, including one in Parkland, Runcie said he wanted to support his students in Washington.

“It’s really inspiring,” he said. “I have a significant level of renewed hope in this country as I see kids coming together across all demographic, socioeconomic lines. This is going to make our country stronger and our kids are going to lead the way.”

— David Smiley

9:05 a.m. Arlington, Virginia.: Five weeks after being shot in leg, survivor ready to march

In the weeks leading up to the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., Marjory Stoneman Douglas High sophomore Ashley Baez wasn’t sure whether she wanted to go.

It wasn’t that the 15-year-old didn’t believe in fighting for stricter gun control laws. It was that just over five weeks ago she had been shot in the leg when a gunman opened fire at her school. Now, Ashley walks with a cane. The thought of being in a crowd of strangers was terrifying.

“I genuinely was afraid to come,” she said. “It’s such a big group and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Ashley Baez and Nicolas Fraser, 16, both sophomores at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, woke up early to make posters for the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Kyra Gurney

But in the end Ashley had decided to come with a group of roughly 200 students from her school. She wanted her voice to be heard and she wanted the country to listen.

On Saturday morning as she ate breakfast at the hotel the group was staying at in Arlington, Virginia, wearing an “Enough is Enough” baseball cap, Ashley said she hoped politicians saw the march and thought about what the Parkland kids had experienced.

“I’m hoping that the politicians realize what we’re going through and how this has affected our lives heavily,” she said. “I just want our schools to be safer so we don’t have to be afraid every second.”

— Kyra Gurney

9:00 a.m. Washington, D.C.: Early crowds

Amid chilly temperatures, have already started to hit the streets in the the nation’s capitol.

Marcus Graddy, from Maryland, donned a white T-shirt with black lettering on it over a heavy jacket: “The right to a childhood without fear”

“Tell ‘em not one more,” an officer shouts, as Grady walks by.

— David Smiley

8:50 a.m. Parkland, Florida: Tens of thousands expected to march

Tens of thousands of students, parents and locals are expected to rally at 10 a.m. at Pine Trails Park near Stoneman Douglas High School. The Broward County Supervisor of Elections will roll out her “Election Connection” mobile voter registration van for the occasion, hoping to take advantage of the political gathering. Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is in Washington, D.C. for the march. Miami-Dade’s schools chief Alberto Carvalho will march along with local leaders and students in Miami Beach.

— Martin Vassolo