Tens of thousands of people gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the March for Our Lives march and rally Saturday as part of demonstrations for stricter gun control taking place across the nation and world.
Demonstrators, including some USC students, marched from Pershing Square to Grand Park at 9 a.m. The nationwide event was organized by student activists who survived the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that resulted in the deaths of 17 people.
March for SC, a campaign organized by USC students and co-sponsored by various campus political advocacy groups and Undergraduate Student Government assemblies to protest gun violence, gathered at Tommy Trojan Saturday morning to go to the March for Our Lives together. According to Alec Vandenberg, a March for SC student organizer, an estimated 40 students attended the March with March for SC. It is unknown how many other USC students attended.
USC students were able to take advantage of free Lyft rides to transport them to the March. According to Vandenberg, Lyft provided $15 ride credits for those who used the promo code “MFOLLA” to get to locations near Pershing Square.
“We really wanted to create a space and a platform for students to come together to not only speak about these issues but act upon them as well,” Vandenberg said. “USC as we all know is not necessarily the most active campus, but that’s definitely something we want to change, and we hope that this movement can start catalyzing other movements and conversations as well.”
The Los Angeles March was attended by an estimated 55,000 people, according to Mayor Eric Garcetti, and drew celebrity supporters such as Amy Schumer, Kendall Jenner and Zendaya.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the downtown L.A. march was peaceful, with no reported arrests.
Ellie Schneider, a freshman majoring in journalism, attended the march with other students and her professor, Annenberg Program Administrator Courtney Miller.
“For me, as a journalism major, it was exciting to see all of the journalists on the ground, whether as photographers, videographers or reporters documenting this historic moment,” Schneider said. “It was especially exciting to march with my Annenberg classmates and professor.”
Lilith Coryell Jenkins, a sophomore majoring in art history, also attended the march.
“Sometimes the fight for gun control seems so futile, we’ve been pushing for legislation and change for so long with no change, but today, to see thousands upon thousands of organized people standing up together for something we believe in was so inspiring and I truly believe that this fight is being reinvigorated and that change will happen,” Jenkins said.
Vandenberg said that knowing the movement was led by younger generations was inspiring.
“It was very empowering,” Vandenberg said. “When I look at the demographics of the crowd, I didn’t necessarily see a huge young group, [but] I know that generally this is a national movement led by predominantly younger people, so that was definitely inspiring and hopefully other students at USC or beyond can get more involved in the movement because that’s so pertinent to us, because our lives are quite literally at risk sometimes.”
At the same time, Vandenberg noted that activism must continue if students want to see change.
“This is only the beginning,” Vandenberg said. “When we march, that’s not the end. This is the start of the conversation, the start of how we engage with these issues and the start of greater activism.”
Editor’s Note: Alec Vandenberg is a Daily Trojan columnist.