Thousands of Minnesotans hold March for Our Lives rally in St. Paul

Saturday’s March for Our Lives is one of over 845 rallies around the world.

Thousands of protesters, many of them teenagers, gather outside the Minnesota State Capitol to speak out against gun violence on Saturday, March 24.

Carter Blochwitz

Thousands of protesters, many of them teenagers, gather outside the Minnesota State Capitol to speak out against gun violence on Saturday, March 24.

Max Chao and Tiffany Bui

Thousands marched to the State Capitol building on a cold Saturday morning to protest gun violence.

The international March for Our Lives rallies took place in hundreds of cities around the globe, including St. Paul. 

The march is an accumulation of a weeks-long debate over gun control spurred on by the Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School shooting in February. Students of MSD and other high schools and colleges around the country took a leading role in organizing the movement. 

A group of about a couple thousand gathered at Harriet Island around 9 a.m. before embarking on a two mile walk to the State Capitol building at 9:47 a.m. 

Advocacy groups such as the League of Women Voters and Moms Demand Action had a strong presence, registering people to vote and handing out signs.

The crowd, largely comprised of young people, touted signs reading “When will they love their kids more than their guns” and “guns are not school supplies.” They also put their spin on popular protest slogans, chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go.” 

“I came out so that, in the future, kids in high school, kids in middle school, kids in elementary school and eventually my children won’t have to be afraid to go to school,” said University of Minnesota freshman Charlie Green.

Varsity jackets and other clothes representing local high schools were widely worn throughout the group. Northfield, Anoka, Washburn, Minnetonka and Columbia Heights High Schools were among the local schools represented. 

“I believe there needs to be a change … There have been too many shootings going on, and I believe that our schools should be a safe environment,” said Alexis Griffin, an 18-year-old student at Rogers High School. 

Some of the attendees were even elementary school students, holding handmade signs and walking alongside their adult guardians. 

“We feel like if kids being are shot they shouldn’t because that’s just wrong, and there’s really no reason for it and it’s just evil,” said Ellie Halsten, a ten-year old marcher. 

Several speakers spoke once the group arrived at the capital, including student activists and legislators. One was University of Minnesota student Sami Rahamim, whose father was killed in a 2012 Minneapolis workplace shooting.

“[The youth] are helping amplify this wake-up call that is so desperately needed. I am honored to be able to be part of that,” Rahamim said prior to the march. 

The lineup of guest speakers was composed mostly of  Minnesota students and legislators. Speakers covered a wide range of gun violence related topics, such as their experience with school shooter drills, gun violence in communities of color, and gun-reform legislation in the works. 

Four students and one parent from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gave emotional speeches recalling the shooting and calling for action.

“Never again should anyone have to attend 17 funerals in one week,” said MSD hockey player Joey Zenobi.

Over 50 students from the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, Macalester College and St. Olaf College also traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national protest. 

The Gophers to DC group left from Coffman Union by bus Friday after raising $13,000 for the cause. 

“It was really successful … we’re really thankful to our generous donors that made this possible,” said lead organizer James Farnsworth before the march.