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Thousands March For Gun Reform At California’s Capitol

Nick Miller / Capital Public Radio

Protesters in Sacramento hold signs during a march against gun violence on March 24, 2018, as part of a nationwide day of demonstrations.

Nick Miller / Capital Public Radio

Holding signs that read “Enough is enough” and “Leave the gun, take the cannoli,” young people led a march of thousands down Sacramento’s Capitol Mall in protest of gun violence.

It was students who mostly coordinated Saturday’s rally at the Capitol, which according to an event post on Facebook more than 4,000 people had RSVP’d to attend.

Conner Velasco, an 8-year-old second-grader at Lincoln Crossing Elementary, said he'd never marched before. "I mean, I've never seen so many people at this protest, because it's my first protest and I kind of agree with them," he said.

Ashli Dass goes to West Campus High School and went to the protest with her sister. "We were both inspired by the students in Parkland," she said. "And it really inspired both of us to also partake in this movement."

The demonstration took place in solidarity with dozens of March for our Lives events across the country. The nationwide rallies come in response to the killing of 17 students at high school in Parkland, Florida in February, and subsequent calls for gun-policy reform.

A large crowd gathered at the Capitol as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg spoke.Nick Miller / Capital Public Radio

The march in Sacramento began in Crocker Park on Third Street proceeded for blocks down Capitol Mall toward the statehouse.

Kaylei Aschwandan, who attends Tokay High School in Lodi, said she was marching because "it could have been us."

"Seeing Emma Gonzales and all of these people ... on the cover of Time magazine now, and that's something, for young people everywhere, that's so empowering, and it just lifts us up and gives us a voice. We have a platform now and we're trying to use it," she said.

At the Capitol, politicians — including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and state Sen. Richard Pan — spoke. The crowd chanted “Let kids speak!” a couple of times during the speeches.

Activists at the rally also yelled out “Stephon Clark,” the name of the 22-year-old unarmed black man who was shot by Sacramento police in his grandparents’ backyard this past Sunday, and whose killing has gripped the city and sparked days of protests.

032418 Gun Violence March Stephon Clark Signs P Some protesters carried signs honoring Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was shot by Sacramento police in his grandparents' backyard on March 18. During the rally, the crowd chanted his name.Nick Miller / Capital Public Radio

California Highway Patrol declined to offer an estimate of the crowd size, which was clearly several thousand people: It took nearly a half hour for marchers to pass by if you stood in one place and observed the procession.

A CHP spokesperson said there were no counter-protesters and no violence or arrests.

It took nearly half an hour for thousands of demonstrators to pass on their way to the Capitol grounds.Nick Miller / Capital Public Radio

Adhiti Bandlamudi

NPR Kroc Fellow

Adhiti Bandlamudi is a visiting NPR Kroc Fellow. During her fellowship, she has worked as a reporter for the National Desk and as a producer for Weekend All Things Considered and Planet Money.   Read Full Bio 

Nick Miller

Senior Editor, News & Features

Nick Miller is an award-winning editor with more than 15 years of newsroom experience. Previously he was editor-in-chief of the East Bay Express in Oakland, and worked as an editor for 12 years at the Sacramento News & Review.  Read Full Bio 

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