LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Local students say they plan to take part in what could become one of the largest marches in history when the “March for Our Lives” makes its way down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. and in cities across the globe Saturday.
More than a dozen students from Los Angeles are flying out to take part in the march, which is expected to draw nearly 1 million people and be held concurrently with more than 800 sister marches from California to Japan.
In the wake of a Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have pulled all-nighters, scheduling speakers, petitioning city councils, renting stages and walking march routes with police in a grass-roots movement that has raised more than $4 million.
“Gun violence is in our daily routine,” said Edna Chavez, a student at Manual Arts High School in downtown Los Angeles who plans to speak at the DC march. “Everywhere I go, whether it be home to school, school to home, or even hanging out with friends or loved ones, it’s a worry every day.”
Riley Helberg, a 14-year-old freshman at Crescenta Valley High School, said the Los Angeles march could eclipse the Women’s March there with more than 100,000 expected, along with a performance from singer Charlie Puth. The Los Angeles march kicks off at 9 a.m. in downtown near Pershing Square and will go past City Hall before it ends with a rally at Grand Park.
Several more, smaller marches are also planned in Santa Monica, the South Bay, Studio City, Burbank, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Fullerton and Santa Clarita.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have become recognizable forces unto themselves, becoming mainstays on national TV, promoting the marches and landing on the cover of Time magazine.
They’ll also be joined by more traditional celebrities from pop culture, including Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato.
Seasoned activists have marveled at what the students accomplished so far, including a sweeping gun bill in Florida and school walkouts attended by over a million students last week, according to organizers Women’s March. Oprah Winfrey and George and Amal Clooney have each donated $500,000. The cast of “Modern Family” did a public service announcement, and Broadway stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt recorded a song for the march.
The Women’s March, Everytown for Gun Safety and the gun violence prevention group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords provided heavy support for the march, opening the youths up to criticism that they are just pawns of left-wing organizations that have been fighting guns for years.
The students said, however, they are calling the shots, and have refused money and turned down support that doesn’t align with their vision.
“They like to believe we’re puppets, they like to believe that we’re being controlled by someone else because … they don’t want to believe that human beings have this power because if they have this power then they might not need a gun,” 18-year-old Stoneman Douglas senior Ryan Deitsch said.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)