In the wake of recent mass shootings throughout the country, numerous humanitarian groups gathered Saturday in D.C. on the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in protest of the National Rifle Association.
The peaceful march, led by the National Action Network and the American Federation of Teachers, took place on Aug. 27 at Folger Park in southeast D.C. and ended at the NRA’s D.C. lobbying office.
Kirsten Foy, current president of the Brooklyn chapter of National Action Network, a nonprofit formed by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991 for modern civil rights, spoke out on his views of the NRA and reasonable gun-control reform.
“Last year we saw the horrific murder of 9 people inside of a historic church and a couple of months ago in Orlando, we saw the most graphic mass murdering of people in history,” Foy said. “The NRA sits a block away from the Republican National Committee, that sits on the same block as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is a direct connection here. The NRA is in business to make money and profit on the deaths of over 33,000 people a year.”
The march, which only took one month to fortify, consisted of more than 200 people from all across the country and over 50 advocacy groups demanding proper gun reform.
Deven DeMarco, a gun-control reform advocate from Queens, N.Y., and a member of Gays Against Guns, a group formed following Orlando’s Pulse nightclub attack in June, spoke on the importance of the march and overall unification.
“We are part of an American fabric, where everyone comes together and I think it is important to bring attention toward representation that takes money out of the hands of the gun industry and from its investors,” he said.
The coalition of groups also announced a 72-day campaign beginning Aug. 28 to keep the heat on the NRA, including nonviolent civil disobedience, rallies, sit-ins and marches in D.C., New York and other cities.
Liz Davis, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, gave perspective on gun violence and how it affects students and families.
“This is something that definitely resonates with teachers,” she said. “We are responsible for teaching other lessons than reading, writing and arithmetic. We’ve got to teach social responsibility and a need for them to stand up and speak out as citizens who live in a democratic society. If you do not speak up, you are part of the problem.”