Their voices could be heard before they could be seen. “Show me what democracy looks like?” “This is what democracy looks like!” they chanted.
“Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.” – March for our Lives Organizing Facebook page.
Columbia students, Saturday took to the streets and marched towards the State House, taking a stand against gun violence. The march is part of a nationwide effort as a result of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings where 17 people lost their lives after a troubled student obtained access to an AR-15 rifle.
Photography by Heather Marie Blazek.
High school student Noah Barker stated, “this is how change happens.” He then declared “We need universal background checks to make sure that those that are unfit are unable to purchase a firearm.”
“How many more children, have to be massacred in our nation’s schools before you take action?” he asked Governor McMaster who was absent amongst the crowd.
A member of the Columbia Police Department led the crowd in a student’s pledge: “I will never bring a gun to school. I will never use a gun to settle a personal problem or dispute. I will use my influences with my friends. To keep them from using guns to settle disputes. My individual choices and actions, will multiple by those of young people throughout the country, will make a difference, together… I honor this pledge, we can reverse the violence, and grow up in safety.”
The State Newspaper estimated that 3000 people showed up to the rally. Arranged on the State House steps, were flowers recognizing the victims of gun violence in a bold statement “never again.” Each flower represented one soul lost.
The day was left to the students, with intermissions of music, speeches, and performances. One student during her speech referenced Governor McMaster’s last statements on student walk-outs, who now famously referred to them as “shameful.” She then read a list of “shameful” statistics for the state of South Carolina including the “Corridor of Shame” and guns being the most popular weapon used to kill women in a state most known for domestic violence.
Organizers registered youths of age to vote, while the Columbia Police Department asked students to sign their name acknowledging the pledge, which the crowd had read aloud.