By Yanxuan Li
BU News Service
BOSTON – More than 45,000 people made their way from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury to the Boston Common for Boston’s March for Our Lives this Saturday. The student-led march to end gun violence was held in response to last month’s school shooting in Florida, which claimed the lives of 17 students.
The marching group began with 40,000 people but onlookers kept joining as they walked down Columbus Avenue to the Common. At the Common, the crowd encountered a group of counter-protesters of approximately 500 people.
The counter-protesters were holding signs like, “Second Amendment is not negotiable” and, “Armed Guards to Protect our Children.” Some of them confronted the protesters face-to-face. Police kept a safe line between the two groups so the march could continue without violence.
The event culminated in a rally in the Boston Common. Students, teachers and residents from underrepresented communities spoke about their experience related to gun violence and their wish to change the situation nationwide.
Leslie Chiu, a graduate of Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida spoke during the rally.
“My school will now always be remembered for what took place on February 14, 2018,” Chiu said. “Our generation will carry with us the weight and burden of countless lives lost and we will take it upon ourselves to ensure that on their behalf that we are the last ones in this environment of daily shootings.”
Rally-goers of all ages protested for better safety for all students attending school each day.
“The most impressive part of the rally today is that our students are not only talking about white people. They also include minorities and people of color, whose communities are especially affected by gun violence.” Natalie Ryan, a teacher at Lawrence High School, said.
Rachel Iler-Keniston, a senior at Belmont High School, was among the young people who chanted and held up signs during the march.
“I’m here because I want the voice to be heard.” Iler-Keniston said. “I think people are too careful about saying that they don’t support the Second Amendment. … We are just calling for common sense gun laws. We are not denouncing the Second Amendment.”
Iler-Keniston said the protesters at the rally had just as much right to be there.
“It’s the freedom of speech,” Iler-Keniston said. “They can speak out their opinions. Personally, I think guns are out of date. There’s no use that I can think of. They are not actually beneficial.”
Throughout the rally protesters chanted, “Enough is enough,” “This is what democracy looks like” and “ Hey, Hey, ho, ho, the NRA has got to go.”