On February 16, 2018 Nikolas Cruz walked into his former high school and murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. This marked the 18th school shooting to result in death or injury since the beginning of the year, the 25th school shooting since Columbine, and the 54th mass shooting since the turn of the century.
Now the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas massacre are marching to Tallahassee determined to change this horrible yet preventable epidemic of shootings in America. “Our message is very simple,” said Tanzil Philip, 16, a sophomore from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to The Miami Herald. “Never again. This never should have happened.”
Listen to the Youth leading the way. We have taken our voices and amplified them for all to hear. The world WILL listen.@Emma4Change
— Women's March Youth (@WomensMarchY) February 20, 2018
Philip is a part of the #NeverAgain movement which was founded by the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. These students aim to change the current gun laws that are failing America’s children and to further improve mental health laws. Today’s march to Tallahassee is the first event of the #NeverAgain movement which includes 100 students traveling in a three-bus caravan to demand gun restrictions, just a week after several of their classmates and teachers were gunned down and killed.
And they’re off. 100 students from Parkland, Florida are headed to Tallahassee (state capital) to demand action on gun control and mental health. It’s a 7 hour journey, and several I’ve spoken to have never been to the capital, much less met their lawmakers. pic.twitter.com/4Wf4CXGgn9
— Paul Blake (@PaulNBlake) February 20, 2018
Sophia Whitney, a student from Stoneman Douglas, told The Miami Herald, “We are fighting for the kids we lost. We are fighting for the kids we’re going to have.”
After the eight hour drive, the students were met with hundreds of fellow students cheering them on at Leon High School where they were greeted with pizza and ice cream. The #NeverAgain student activists will carry their homemade signs to the Capitol and meet with more than 75 legislators of both parties.
“We’re gonna keep talking, we’re gonna keep pushing, until something is done — because people are dying,” said Alfonso Calderon, a junior. “You guys are what we’re trying to protect. We’re what we’re trying to protect. It’s us." He then added, "Change is gonna come now and I want you guys to remember, this is never going to happen again like this.”
To those who do not want to listen to these survivors, 18-year-old Julie Bishop from Stoneman Douglas has a few words to say.
Senior Julia Bishop, 18, attended a friend’s funeral before getting on the bus to Tallahassee today. She has a message for any lawmaker not willing to listen to her & her classmates at the Capitol tomorrow. #ParklandStudentsSpeak pic.twitter.com/nAfXQdBekB
— Eliott C. McLaughlin (@EliottCNN) February 21, 2018
The #NeverAgain movement has been met with astounding support. Three days after the deadly shooting, teens in Washington D.C. staged a "lie-in" protest outside of the White House advocating for gun reform.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) February 19, 2018
The #NeverAgain organizers created a Twitter page to give updates to those around the nation who want to join the march for gun control. So far, 52 sister marches have signed up including Texas, Washington, and London.
— March For Our Lives (@AMarch4OurLives) February 18, 2018
Despite many Americans joining the #NeverAgain movement, the eight-hour drive to Tallahassee included a stream of dissapointing news such as The Florida House of Representatives refusing to take up a bill on assault weapons.
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) February 20, 2018
WATCH: Students chant "shame on you!" outside the Florida State Capitol. pic.twitter.com/HpjGb1xgFR
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 21, 2018
However, the news was met not with defeat, but with motivation. Diego Pfeiffer recorded a video in response to the bill on assault weapons being ignored by saying, "...good always wins. You're either with us or against us."
As Marjory Stoneman Douglas students were en route to Tallahassee, the Florida House opted not to take up a weapons ban this session. At a rest stop, @firepfeiffer1 shares his thoughts. pic.twitter.com/pCpbfTe7O7
— Eliott C. McLaughlin (@EliottCNN) February 20, 2018
Some celebs stood with the students, including Amal and George Clooney, along with Oprah and Steven Spielberg who have donated $500,000 to the cause, with Oprah comparing the movement to the Freedom Riders of the 60s.
George and Amal, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your $500,000 donation to ‘March For Our Lives.’ These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard.
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) February 20, 2018
The mayor of Dallas is also standing with the students. He has told the NRA to find another city for their May meeting if they do not support changes to gun laws.
Sarah Chadwick says that posted high above the staircase in Douglas High school reads the quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." She says she read it every day to class and now, she is fully trying to change the world.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” - that quote is plastered high on a staircase in douglas. I read it everyday while walking to class, and now I’m here truly trying to be a change in the world.
— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) February 20, 2018
These student activists will continue to advocate for gun control and on March 24, the #NeverAgain activists will take to the streets of Washington D.C. "to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today."
For Carmen, Meadow, Peter, Nicholas, Mr. Hixon, Coach Feis, Luke, Alaina, Jaime, Martin, Alyssa, Helena, Mr. Beigel, Joaquin, Cara, Gina, and Alexander. WE WILL grant them solace. WE WILL make a change. Do it for them. #NeverAgain
— Hope (@hopetriciaa) February 20, 2018
These teens are determined to work hard until we have stricter gun laws and we could not be more proud.