LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Thousands of people gathered in downtown Los Angeles Saturday morning to march in solidarity with the Florida high school mass shooting survivors and advocate for stronger gun control laws.
Marchers of all ages crowded into the area around City Hall carrying banners and signs, some of which said “Protect Kids Not Guns” and “Arms Are For Hugging.”
Police officers on the scene put the early crowd estimate at least 40,000. Organizers said they anticipated as many as 200,000 people.
The march is one of hundreds taking place around the world in support of the main March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. Other marches are also taking part around Los Angeles County, including in Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Burbank, Pico Rivera, Long Beach and Santa Clarita.
Organizers said there were 832 rallies held around the world.
There are also several taking place in Orange County.
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A smaller group of gun rights advocates stood behind seven Los Angeles Police Department officers in front of LAPD Headquarters at the corner of Spring Street and First Avenue with signs defending the Second Amendment and a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag. Others held posters festooned with images of guns sprinkled with glitter and labeled Trump .45.
The downtown march began east of Pershing Square around 10 a.m. and culminated with a rally in front of City Hall.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti began by leading the crowd in a call and response: “Whose streets?” he said, and the crowd roared “Our streets.” “Whose Lives?” “Our Lives!” “Whose nation?” “Our nation!”
The mayor welcomed “our leaders, the students who are here today” and told them “today will be written in the history books that your children will read.”
He pointed to California’s bans on assault rifles, bump stocks and waiting periods on gun sales as a model for federal legislation and closed with a message for President Donald Trump.
“Get with the program Mr. President, or get the hell out of the way.”
Comedian Amy Schumer spoke to the Parkland students, some of whom had taken the stage before her.
“We stand together for your senselessly slain classmates and friends and say this has to stop!”
Schumer railed at politicians for “taking money from the NRA to uphold these laws outdated by hundreds of years” and called on them to offer more than thoughts and prayers and “help us, start today, we will forgive you.”
Schumer is a cousin of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D–New York). In 2015, in Lafayette, Louisiana, a gunman opened fire in a theater showing her “Trainwreck” killing three and wounding seven.
The Trump Administration issued a statement Saturday about the nationwide demonstrations through Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters.
“We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today,” Walters said. “Keeping our children safe is a top priority of the president’s, which is why he urged Congress to pass the Fix NICS and STOP School Violence Acts, and signed them into law. Additionally, on Friday, the Department of Justice issued the rule to ban bump stocks, following through on the president’s commitment to ban devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.
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