Thousands rally, students speak against gun violence at 'March For Our Lives' in Seattle
SEATTLE -- Students and families rallied at Cal Anderson Park on Saturday morning to press for stricter gun control measures and safer schools in Seattle's March For Our Lives.
Then the thousands who attended began marching toward downtown Seattle and ultimately made their way to Seattle Center.
At Seattle Center, the marchers heard from Gov. Jay Inslee and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who was governor when 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Inslee urged the marchers to tell President Trump:
"You must do less tweeting and more listening to the youth of Washington state on how to stop gun violence," he said.
As others had urged, Inslee asked the students to say involved, to register to vote and to go to the polls.
"We want you to be as engaged as you are today," he said. "Look at today as a decade of helping our state and our nation."
Malloy echoed that message and said it was time to end the "strangle hold" that the National Rifle Association has on the nation.
"The is not an end," Malloy said.
"We can make America safe. We can save our children."
Dave Matthews and Brandi Carlile also made a special appearance and performed at Seattle Center.
At the Cal Anderson Park rally, organizer Rhiannon Rasaretnam, a student at Tahoma High School, called the effort "a fight for our future."
"This more than about us," said another student. "This is about getting really legislative change."
Among other things, the students want to raise the legal age to buy all firearms to 21 and institute universal background checks for buying guns. Repeatedly students were urged to register to vote and to vote.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told the crows that efforts this year at the Legislature to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to increase the age to buy an assault weapon to 21 failed. He called that "outrageous" and "unacceptable."
Other states, even more conservative states, have adopted some of those measures, he said.
"Does that make any sense?"
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., invoked school shootings at Seattle Pacific University and Marysville Pilchuck High School and the victims of those events.
"We are here to march for them," she said.
Cantwell urged the students to continue their efforts after Saturday, including in the November elections.
"If you can't change the laws, then change the people who change the laws," she said.
The nationwide march was spearheaded by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 lives were taken in a mass shooting.
In Seattle, students organized their own march and said on their Facebook page, "We, the youth of Washington, are infuriated. Infuriated with the lack of action regarding gun violence by the U.S. Congress and by our Washington State legislators."
“I think it’s unacceptable for us to have to go to school daily and think about what would happen or what we would have to do if an active shooter came in,” 18-year-old Catherine Zhu said. “The message we want to give to young people is that they have enormous amounts of social and political power.”
Zhu is one of seven student organizers who put Seattle’s march together. They are specifically protesting current gun laws and the NRA.
After speeches at Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, the march began shortly before 11 a.m. and headed through downtown toward Seattle Center.
March For Our Lives - Seattle also encouraged participants to bring their ID and register to vote at the march.
The march ended Saturday afternoon.
"All these students are tired of elected officials not taking action and risking our lives every single day," said Rasaretnam . "The unified message is we are taking a stance no matter how old we are, no matter if we can vote or not and hold them accountable."
Marches were held in other parts of Western Washington, including at the state capitol in Olympia and Everett.
Small communities had events as well, including Orcas Island in the San Juans.