Things That Matter

Thousands Took To The Streets In Washington And Across The Country To Join The March For Our Lives Revolution

Welcome to the revolution.”

With those four words, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Cameron Kasky began the historic March For Our Lives rally in Washington. It’s estimated that at least half a million people gathered in D.C. today with more than 800 related marches happening throughout the country. According to organizers, every state in the America, and every continent except for Antarctica hosted a march in support of gun reform. 

“Look around you,” Kasky said. “We are the change.”

The streets of Washington were filled with young people demonstrating their desire for gun reform.

CREDIT: Facebook/March for our Lives

The protest in Washing — which Parkland students began to plan on the very day they lost 17 of their classmates — has become an undeniable movement who’s message for gun reform will not dim until they see effective change.

The students have been organizing, fundraising, and productively using social media as a tool for a call to action, which has inspired countless to join the fight for gun reform along with them.

Edna Chavez, a 17-year-old from south Los Angeles, was one of the 20 speakers at the rally in Washington.

Here is Chavez’s powerful speech that you will likely see spreading everywhere.

The senior from Manual Arts High School spoke loudly and proudly of her family, her heritage and her hometown. She spoke about her involvement with the Community Coalition organization who has shaped her to be an activist of gun reform after her older brother, Ricardo, died as a result to gun violence.

“That’s why I got involved,” Chavez told the crowd. “I wanted to impact policies and make sure our voices are heard.”

“I am a youth leader,” she added. “I am a survivor.”

Through tears, Chavez went on to speak about her the trauma and the anxiety she has experienced in the aftermath of her brother’s death, which has impacted her entire family.

“You see the melanin on your brother’s skin turn grey,” Chavez said when speaking about her brother’s death.

On the eve of the protest, David Hogg — one of the most vocal leaders from Marjory Stoneman — was asked by Axios what success looked like for him and his classmates. To that complex question, Hogg said: “Simply, a lot of Americans coming out and becoming politically active. This is the start of our marathon.”

People marched and chanted for gun reform.

Just as the Women’s March motivated thousands to attend their inaugural gathering in Washington, the Parkland students have done the same but in a very short amount of time. They garnered support from the Obamas, George Clooney, Oprah, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West (who attended the Washington event) and many more celebrities who all contributed to their fund. As of today, March For Our Lives has generated $3.4 million dollars.

Today’s rally also included musical performances by Ariana Grande, Common, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, and Vic Mensa.

Demi Lovato performed “Skyscraper” between speakers to show her support of the young people seeking change.

Lovato was one of the first celebrities to reach out to Parkland students and lend her support.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt also performed their new mashup single “Found/Tonight.”

Because the march was so detailed in its planning — which included an app that provided information on the event — the city said they’ve been preparing for this for weeks.

“As the young men and women from Parkland, Florida, have been preparing for Saturday’s event, the District has been preparing to keep them safe here in Washington,” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said to The Washington Post.

The crowd represented the intersectionality of all the communities impacted by gun violence.

The New York Times reports that counter-protests in support of gun rights would also be taking place in Salt Lake City, Greenville, South Carolina and Helena, Montana.

Emma González used her voice to keep people motivated in the demonstration that last hours in the nation’s capitol.

Undeniably, Emma Gonzalez has become the face and voice of the movement for gun law reform. She has been the outspoken victim of Parkland who is fighting the loudest.

In an essay in Teen Vogue, the 18-year-old high school senior was very direct about their demands.

“We need to digitize gun-sales records, mandate universal background checks, close gun-show loopholes and straw-man purchases, ban high-capacity magazines, and push for a comprehensive assault weapons ban with an extensive buyback system,” Gonzalez writes.

Organizers want the march to increase voter registration among the younger attendees. Protesters, many of which attended the National Walk Out Day on March 14, have threatened GOP lawmakers that if they don’t make changes to the country’s gun laws they will “vote them out.”

The crowd was not shy about calling for people to make it to the polls in November.

“I want an incredibly large voter registration turnout,” González told MSNBC. “I want people who don’t understand what we’re feeling to come away from this thinking, ‘I might understand this.'”

The march in Washington was accompanied by hundreds of sister marches across the world on 6 continents.

Here’s some scenes of today’s historic March For Our Lives throughout the country and worldwide.

CREDIT: Twitter/@FoxNews

Houston

ABC13 reports that thousands attended the rally at Tranquility Park near City Hall.

Miami

CREDIT: Twitter/Victor Oquendo

Hundreds of thousands attended various rallies held in Miami and in South Florida, according to CBS Miami.

Nashville

An estimated, 10,000 people descended in downtown Nashville and marched to the Davidson County Courthouse, WSMV reports.

Raleigh, NC

Los Angeles

It’s being projected that 60,000 people will take to the streets of Los Angeles demanding gun control.

Chicago

Thousands gathered in Union Park in downtown Chicago.

San Francisco

Hundreds of thousands gathered in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area.

New York City

Hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of New York City, which included many famous faces.

“One of my best friends was killed by gun violence right around here, so it’s important to me not just to march today but to take action tomorrow and to have these people to have their voices heard,” Paul McCartney said on CNN.

People are taking to social media to express why they want gun reform.

Many want gun reform so they can live without fear of being killed.

And teachers don’t want to live in constant fear with their students.

Did you march today? If so, share your videos and pictures on social media with #Latinos4GunReform.


READ: Here’s How High School Students Across The Country Used Their Voices To Demonstrate For Gun Control

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Kansas City Police Are Looking For Two Men Suspected Of Shooting Patrons Of A Tequila Bar

Things That Matter

Kansas City Police Are Looking For Two Men Suspected Of Shooting Patrons Of A Tequila Bar

Sherae Honeycutt / Facebook

It was a normal Saturday night for Tequila Kansas City Bar (TKC) bartender, Jose Valdez. He was serving new customers and old when a familiar, unwelcome face walked in at 11 p.m. asking for a drink. Valdez refused to serve the man, recalling the issues he’s caused the bar in the past. The man threw a glass at him and he was promptly escorted out. At 1:30 a.m., the same man walked back into the bar with a friend and handguns. Smoke filled the tiny room as they shot people at random.

Four Latino men were killed and five other victims were wounded. TKC is a private, members-only bar that has always been regarded as a “safe space” for the Latino community. Three of the slain were second-generation TKC patrons. Their parents were also members.

TKC usually staffs a security guard, but he didn’t show up that night.

Credit: @OfficialJoelF / Twitter

The owner of Tequila KC Bar told KMBC reporter Matt Evans that the bar scheduled a security guard that night, but “he never showed up.” Kansas City, Kansas Police confirmed that they had arrived on the scene earlier in the night. The suspect had picked a fight with someone as he was being escorted out and the two brawled outside. By the time the police arrived, the fight was over and they left.

Shock and adrenaline allowed the wounded to escape from the bar before the pain set in.

Credit: @ellemoxley / Twitter

Two hours later, the suspect arrived with an accomplice and handguns. Survivors recall hearing at least a dozen gunshots, and could barely see through the gun smoke.

“They went off so quick I didn’t think it was gunshots,” customer Michael Barajas told the Kansas City Star.

The two gunmen are still at large.

Credit: Kansas City Police Department

Police have released security camera images of the suspects, in hopes that anyone who recognizes them will come forward. Police have yet to name the suspects, and police spokesman Officer Thomas Tomasic told The Kansas City Star that he doesn’t believe the shooting was racially motivated. “It’s a pretty small bar,” Tomasic told the paper. “You have two guys come in, start shooting, people are just running. People are just running wherever they can.”

Victim Alfredo Calderon had a 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter to raise.

Credit: Alfredo Calderon / Facebook

While police haven’t released the names of any of the victims, some family members are coming forward to remember their deceased. Juan Ramirez told reporters that his 29-year-old nephew, Alfredo Calderon, died in the shooting. “We’re just in shock and disbelief,” Ramirez told The Kansas City Star, adding that his nephew had “nothing to do with it.”

This wasn’t bartender Valdez’s first shooting either. “I don’t know what to make of it,” he told The Kansas City Star, through tears. “A sad day for everybody who lost their lives and their families. How can you go into a place full of people and just start shooting?” He said he hugged his own niños Sunday morning, saying “pray to God I’m here.”

When a witness’s fiancé was shot, she tried to stop the bleeding and “held him till he took his last breath.”

Shay Celedon was at TKC with her best friend and her fiancé, both of whom have yet to be identified. Celedon said the two were waiting until after her niece’s quinceañera to get down to wedding planning hoping to tie the knot in October 2020. The three were enjoying their night until they witnessed the violent fight outside the bar. Celedon got a sinking feeling and decided to go home for fear that “something bad would happen.”

“None of it really seems real right now,” she told CNN. “We were sitting here yesterday evening having drinks with my best friend’s fiancé. I go home, go to bed, get woken up two hours later that he’s deceased, and she held him till he took his last breath, and tried to bring him back and keep pressure on his gunshot wound. And it was just one fatal shot that took him from us.”

Tequila Kansas City Bar “was a home away from home, you could say.”

Credit: Sherae Honeycutt / Facebook

Toni Maciel, 36, knew seven of the nine victims personally. While she returned to TKC the following day to be with her “TKC family” and community, she doesn’t feel safe anymore. Maciel knows the wife of the alleged shooter. During a karaoke night just two days prior, she witnessed him physically abuse his wife. Maciel intervened and asked him to leave. “This was a home away from home, you could say,” she told The Kansas City Star. “But after this, I don’t know what would happen with our community.”

Tequila Kansas City Bar hosted a vigil for the victim Sunday night at 7 p.m.

As we report on this story, the community is gathering around TKC to pay vigil to the deceased. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly released a statement saying she continues “to be frustrated that these mass shootings and killings occur with regular frequency. Our nation has an obligation to address this ongoing public health crisis.”

READ: Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

Things That Matter

Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

We’ve come to the point in American history where deaths due to gun violence have become what many would call a crisis. According to data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, guns were responsible for more deaths than car accidents were. So it comes to no surprise when certain activists take it upon themselves to bring attention to what many label an epidemic. On Wednesday, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a non-profit organization founded with the goal of “protecting children from gun violence with programs that work”, did just that. The NPO released a short video, titled “Back-To-School-Essentials” that made waves through the internet.

The video begins exactly the way so many back-to-school commercials start: discussing the coolest new gadgets to buy for your kids this Fall.

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

A smiling boy pulls a backpack out of a locker, bragging that his mom got him the “perfect bag for back to school”. A young girl shows off the colorful binders that are “just what she needs to help her stay organized” for the school year. But things take an odd turn with the third student. As the student describes his headphones as “just what [he] needs for studying”, we can see that not all is quite right in the background. As the boy listens to his music, oblivious, we see students running in the behind him, appearing to be panicked.

As the commercial wears on, it becomes even eerier when students are speaking carefree to the camera while scenes of carnage unfold around them. The commercial wears on with each scenario becoming eerier: a girl uses her sweater to bar a door shut, keeping an active shooter out of the gymnasium. A different student uses her new socks as a tourniquet to keep a bleeding student alive. The video ends on a chilling note: a young girl hides in a bathroom stall, tears running down her face. The camera closes up on her as we hear an active shooter enter the bathroom. “I love you, Mom,” she types into her phone.

The video ends with a simple title-card over a black screen: “School shooting is preventable when you know the signs.”

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

The PSA then directs the viewer to find out more about the organization at sandyhookpromise.org. According to Sandy Hook Promise’s About page, the “above-the-politics” organization is made up of “several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012”. Their mission is to “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation”. Their main action-items are to target mental health programs to individuals who are “at-risk” at engaging in gun violence and by advocating for policy changes in order to prevent school shootings. 

As of now, the video has racked up over 1 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours.

The virality of the PSA is likely due to its execution: we’re all used to seeing vacuous back-to-school commercials whose sole intentions are to sell us something. “Back-To-School Essentials” lulls us into a sense of comfort with its upbeat music before jerking us into the current violent reality of school-aged students’ lives. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks every mass shooting in the country, the US has had 283 mass shootings since September 1st of 2019. 

The video isn’t without controversy–some Twitter users are disturbed by how close to home the video’s scenarios are.

In fact, many viewers are finding the PSA hard to watch. On Twitter, users are complaining of tearing up after watching the video. Some even claim to “feeling sick” by the video’s contents. 

In response, some Twitter users are glad of the reality-check the PSA is providing:

It’s evident that making their audience uncomfortable from watching the video was one of the organization’s goals. That way, it makes it harder to ignore the reality of school shootings and their impact on children’s lives.

This woman explained how the video hit a little too close to home:

It seems we’ve come to the point in our culture where we feel we need to buy phones for our children in the event that they experience a school shooting. 

This Twitter user applauded the Sandy Hook Promise Organization’s bravery in committing to their message:

Sometimes the only way to get your point across is to explain, in the starkest terms possible, how dire the situation is. This video managed to convey that in a powerful way.

This Latina was effected by the PSA on a visceral level:

Reactions like this prove that public service announcements, when done right, can achieve exactly what they set out to achieve.

Simply from the Twitter reaction, it’s clear that this video has touched a lot of people.

To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and its mission to prevent gun violence, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.