Students from the D.C. region are holding a demonstration Monday at the White House in response to the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead.
Students will lie on the ground to represent the victims and call for political leaders to change gun laws.
The two young women who organized the demonstration, Whitney Bowen and Eleanor Nuechterlein, initially had planned for 17 students to take part in the protest, but they say their event took off on social media
“It turned from 17 of our closest friends into a couple hundred people really in just a few hours,” Bowen said.
They say they were inspired by the shooting survivors in Parkland who have been so outspoken about changing gun laws in America.
“We’re not trying to make this a political debate between Republicans and Democrats,” said Nuechterlein. “We’re really just trying to stay neutral and say that something needs to be done.”
“You never think that it’s going to be your school or your friends or your family and last week over a dozen kids went to school for last time,” says Bowen. “And that’s heartbreaking. And we feel horrible for those families, but we don’t want to wait for it to be our school or for it to be our area.”
In addition to the protest Monday, the pair says they also plan to join a larger call for action on March 24. The ‘March for Our Lives’ has gone viral on social media with the biggest protest planned for DC.
“Expect to see us a lot,” said Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky. “The March for Our Lives is going to be in every major city and we are organizing it so students everywhere can take back their lives.”
President Trump has committed to a listening session with students and teachers in Florida on Wednesday.
“We’re the ones who hear a book drop and we think, ‘Is there shooter on our campus?'” said Bowen. “And that’s not the way that it should be in a classroom. A classroom is where we should go to learn and to feel safe. We want to send the message overall else is that something needs to be done.”
The demonstration will happen Monday from 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC; North side (Pennsylvania Avenue between Lafayette Park and the White House).
In Florida, politicians have scrambled to produce legislation in response to the Feb. 14 attack that killed 17 people. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, is being held without bail in the Broward County Jail, accused of 17 counts of first-degree murder.
In a TV interview, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.
Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican, attended a prayer vigil at the First Church Coral Springs, blocks from the shooting site. He is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP lawmakers this week.
Emma Gonzalez, a student survivor, gave an impassioned speech at a weekend rally with a stinging citation of the NRA’s $30 million in expenditures on Trump’s behalf in the presidential election. On Sunday she cited Trump, Rubio and Scott by name in a warning to politicians backed by the NRA.
“Now is the time to get on the right side of this, because this is not something that we are going to let sweep under the carpet,” she said on “Meet the Press.”
Seeking to increase pressure for gun control, the students plan to visit the state capitol in Tallahassee this week to demand immediate action. They are also calling for anti-gun violence demonstrations in Washington and other cities March 24.
Organizers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14.