Thousands of people thronged the lawn of the Rhode Island Statehouse in Providence Saturday afternoon. They came together as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered nationwide and around the world for March For Our Lives protests held to demand action to stop school shootings and gun violence in general.
Speakers at the Statehouse included local students and politicians, with the politicians keeping their remarks brief and taking turns introducing the students.
Halima Ibrahim, a sophomore at the Islamic School of Rhode Island, generated some of the biggest crowd reaction when she read her poem “Wake Up”, calling for gun control and ending with these lines, “You are leaving the country in our hands. Soon it’s going to be us calling the shots. And there will be no more shots.”
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said she was “sick” of the gun violence, but felt that things might be about to change.
“This time it feels different”, she told the crowd. “And why does it feel different? Because of you.”
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse criticized the National Rifle Association for using the power of money to block gun control in Congress. He urged the crowd to vote in November, telling them, “We’re one election away from being able to make a very big change.”
March for Our Lives was organized by student survivors of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17. Saturday’s biggest rally was in Washington, DC, where crowd-size estimates ranged from 300,000 to 800,000. The rally in Boston drew about 50,000, according to a police estimate quoted by the Boston Globe.
In Providence, in keeping with the student-led organization of the rally, hundreds of young people turned out holding signs that said “Enough Is Enough” and “Protect Kids, Not Guns”.
Families of all sizes made up a large part of the crowd as well. There were couples, couples with kids and several generations together. One older woman held a sign that said “Grandma for Gun Control” while several toddlers played at her feet. A younger woman stood by a baby stroller. Her sign said, “My Child is More Important Than Your Gun”.