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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Enough is enough

by digby

It appears that the turnout is huge for the March For Our Lives today, all over the globe.

In New York, marchers bundled in bright orange — the official color of a gun control advocacy group — charged toward Central Park. In Washington, protesters held signs with the messages “Arms Are for Hugging” and “Never Again.” And in Parkland, Fla., less than a mile from where the shooting took place, one protester’s eyes brimmed with tears, surrounded by the echoing chant, “Enough is enough!”

By late morning, counterprotests were also gaining steam. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators carried pistols, flags and toddlers swaddled in blankets. One of their signs read: “What can we do to stop mass shootings? SHOOT BACK.” In Boston, opposing groups of protesters shouted at one another before the police intervened.

Here’s what we’re watching as protests unfurl around the globe:

• More than 800 protests are planned in every American state and on every continent except for Antarctica, according to a website set up by organizers. Check out photos from around the world, and a map of planned protests.

• The National Park Service has approved a permit for the Washington march that estimates 500,000 people could attend. Called March for Our Lives, the main event there kicks off around midday, and some of the most prominent student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a shooting left 17 dead last month, will speak.

• The student leaders who organized the day’s events, many of them sharp-tongued and defiant in the face of politicians and gun lobbyists, have kept attention on the issue in a time of renewed political activism on the left, as they helped lead a national school walkout and pushed state officials in Florida to enact gun legislation. The effectiveness of the students’ efforts will be measured, in part, on the success of the demonstrations.

• On Saturday, the White House said in a statement, “We applaud the many courageous young Americans exercising their First Amendment rights today.” On Friday, the Justice Department proposed banning so-called bump stocks, but President Trump signed a spending bill that included only some background check and school safety measures.

• Counterprotests in support of gun rights were planned in cities including Salt Lake City, Greenville, S.C., and Helena, Mont.

The student organizers want action in a midterms year.

The student activists want to emphasize they are are a group that will soon have access to the ballot box, as they hope to build support for candidates who support universal background checks and bans on assault-style weapons.

Huge majorities of Americans say they support gun control measures like universal background checks. Yet when put directly to the people in a referendum in recent years, the results have been mixed. Here is a look at what polling, and recent referendums, reveal about the political challenges that face the student-led activists.

“What we’re doing is because we’re not scared of these adults,” said Jaclyn Corin, 17, a Stoneman Doulgas junior and lead organizer, “because we have nothing to lose, we don’t have an election to lose, we don’t have a job to lose — we just have our lives to lose.”

She compared the march to protests against the Vietnam War and rallies for civil rights. She recently spoke with Representative John Lewis, a key player during the civil rights era. “He said he saw himself and his friends and his movement in us, in our movement,” she said.

In Parkland on Saturday, Sari Kaufman, a Stoneman Douglas sophomore, urged everyone to “turn this moment into a movement” that would toss out of office any politician who took money from the National Rifle Association.

“They think we’re all talk and no action,” she said to loud applause and cheers, and urged the crowd to prove politicians wrong by voting in huge numbers.

“Remember that policy change is not nearly as difficult as losing a loved one,” she said. “Don’t just go out and vote: Get 17 other people to go out and vote.”

The Washington march also drew people like Dantrell Blake, 21, and his cousin Deshon Hannah, 20. Both were shot as teenagers in Chicago, and they said they hoped their visit to Washington would bring attention to the plight of their city’s many shooting victims.

“When something like that happens,” Mr. Blake said of Parkland, “it’s like, ‘It’s a massacre.’ But it’s a massacre in Chicago every day — and this definitely can be talked about.”

Jodi Klein, whose oldest daughter, Jessica, graduated from the high school in 2008, said she was “pumped” by the crowds.

Asked what was different about the Parkland shooting, Ms. KleinKlein, 58, of Coral Springs, Fla. said: “They went after educated kids that can fight back. My daughter was on the debate team. They taught these kids to speak out.”
Ms. Jacobs was a library clerk during the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She barricaded herself in the school’s library, “in a closet hidden behind file cabinets” along with 18 fourth-graders.

“In the months after the shooting it took 100 percent of my personal focus to get up and go to work every day to take care of my surviving students,” she said. “One of the things that happens in our communities is that the survivors of gun violence have zero help.”

Mara Kleinberg, a high school senior at Churchill Center and School in Manhattan, wore an orange quilted parka and camouflage pants, and carried a sign asking why she should be protesting for her safety instead of learning.

Ms. Kleinberg, 17, said she was looking forward to voting so she could back elected officials who support gun control. “I’m happy that I can vote finally and I hope this movement brings a lot more voters into American politics,” she said.

She added that she had first become aware of the issue after Sandy Hook. As a voter, she said, “I’ll be looking for a lot more regulation: raising the age limit, making sure the kids can’t get guns. It’s kids’ brains that are still developing.”

Sayem Hussein, an 18-year-old high school senior at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, said that he had woken up at 2 a.m. and traveled an hour and a half by subway and Uber to get to East Harlem, where he was waiting on a street corner for his classmates and a bus that would drive them to Washington.

“I am a firm believer of constitutional rights,” said Mr. Hussein, who had a small copy of the Constitution in his jacket pocket. “I completely understand the Second Amendment and why people are so defensive about it, but gun regulation is totally different from taking away someone’s gun.”

There is another side which hasn't shown up today in most places which is nice. But they are out there and they did make themselves known in some places:

Tensions over guns seemed to converge in Salt Lake City, where a gun rights march kicked off just minutes before a gun control march.

The gun rights rally drew hundreds of people, many carrying signs — “AR-15s EMPOWER the people,” one said.

Brandon McKee was one of the many people with pistols on their hips. His daughter Kendall, 11, held a sign: “Criminals love gun control.” Mr. McKee said of the Washington marchers: “I believe it’s their goal to unarm America, and that’s why we’re here today. We’re not going to stand idly by and let them tell us what we can and cannot do.”

As the gun rights advocates set off toward the Capitol, some began to heckle a gun control advocate, Linda Peer, 67, who had infiltrated the march line.

“She’s not a true American!” one man yelled. “Shame on you!” the group chanted at her.

At the Capitol, a man in camouflage shouted at another woman who appeared to be part of the gun-restriction group. “You don’t even know what you’re talking about,” he said. “Are you even from this country?”

In Boston, Second Amendment supporters gathered in front of the statehouse with signs that said, “Come and take it.”

“We believe in the Second Amendment,” said Paul Allen, 62, a retired construction worker who lives in Salisbury, Mass. “You people will interpret it the way you want and we’ll interpret it for what it is — that law-abiding citizens who are true patriots have the right to bear arms.”

Mr. Allen described supporters of gun control as “ignorant sheep who are being spoon-fed by liberal teachers.”

“They haven’t read the Constitution and they don’t know what it means,” he said.
Perhaps the most formidable political foe the students face? The N.R.A.

The leaders of the National Rifle Association have questioned whether the students were mature enough to lead a discussion about national policy, and representatives have also accused the movement of being backed by “radicals with a history of violent threats,” a claim that the fact-checking website PolitiFact deemed untrue.

And then you have the cretinous moron:

The president has grappled publicly with how to respond after the Parkland shooting.

A week after the Parkland shooting, President Trump emerged from an emotionally raw meeting with students, as well as parents of those who were killed, appearing moved. Days later, he declared: “We have to have action. We don’t have any action.”

But in March, he quickly abandoned a brief promise to work for gun control measures opposed by the N.R.A. He has also discussed measures such as arming teachers and reopening mental institutions to prevent school shootings.

On Friday, he criticized Mr. Obama over bump stocks, an accessory that can make a semiautomatic weapon fire more rapidly, in tweeting about the Justice Department’s move.

I think we may truly be seeing the first real signs that the mass movement on the left inspired by the horrific ascension of Donald Trump, gathering peacefully in the streets on a regular basis and organizing electorally as well, might just succeed. The Womens Marches and this demonstration show that a large cross section of the population, young and old, small towns and large cities, are actually leaving their couches and taking time out of their busy lives to make a political statement.

And they are not rejecting the idea of running for office and voting which means they aren't going to forget about one of the most powerful tools we still have available to us to make change --- the US government. Indeed, the Indivisible-style groups are campaigning for office all over the country and these young activists are all talking about voting and organizing.

This is a very good sign. Mass movement + government is very powerful. And that's what it's going to take to reset from our current horror.

The other side is not going to give up. They are very angry as you can see from some of the quotes above. Nobody should be sanguine that just because these large numbers of people are coming out to protest that there is no opposition. There's plenty. This is fight.