DES MOINES, Iowa — The March For Our Lives movement for gun control inspired demonstrations across America on Friday, which included a march through downtown Des Moines to the State Capitol.
The crowd started at the Central Library and with a police escort walked a mile and a half to the steps of the statehouse. They chanted “no more silence end gun violence” along the way, and many in attendance wore orange for gun violence awareness.
The March For Our Lives movement, which started after the deadly shooting at Parkland, a Florida high school in 2018, is primarily led by teenagers. That includes Johnston High School senior Esha Bolar, who leads March For Our Lives Iowa.
Bolar said the deadly shootings of Black people in a Buffalo, New York supermarket and of children in an Uvalde, Texas elementary school reinvigorated the movement for gun reform.
“It does feel like you’re screaming into the wind. When Uvalde happened, it was disheartening,” Bolar said. “The recent tragedies, they haven’t been too far from home. I think it’s important now to unionize and tell our lawmakers what’s up.”
When the crowd arrived at the State Capitol, other teenagers voiced their concerns about the threats of mass shootings across America,
“We know what we need to do and we know what our politicians need to do,” said Kidan Girma, who recently graduated from Johnston High School. “I think the American people are sick and tired and exhausted.”
“The closer the shootings got to home, the more worried I got,” said Akshara Eswar, a junior at Johnston High School. “What if I’m next? What if my friends are next? What if my school is next?”
Bolar believes the constant pressure for gun control through marches and voting will eventually lead to substantial change.
“I am optimistic,” Bolar said. “If not now, it will be in the future. I believe very strongly that the young people will win.”