After saying a few words at Saturday’s March for Our Lives protest in Washington D.C., Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre last month, began an unannounced moment of silence.
“Six minutes and about 20 seconds,” she began. “In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured, and everyone, absolutely everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered.”
“Everyone who was there understands. Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands,” she added, before naming the victims of the school shooting.
Afterwards, Gonzalez stood silently in front of the microphone for several minutes with tears streaming down her face as the crowd was at turns silent and filled with scattered applause and calls of encouragement for the 18-year-old.
At one point, the crowd even began chanting, “Never again.”
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After Gonzalez had been onstage for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, a timer went off and she resumed speaking.
“Since the time that I came out here, it has been 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting, and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job,” she remarked before concluding her speech.
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The March for Our Lives protest in Washington D.C. was planned by Gonzalez and fellow Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Jaclyn Corin, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, and Alex Wind within days of the Feb. 14 mass shooting. The event went on to inspire hundreds of “sibling marches” worldwide.
In addition to the student speakers in D.C., a group of celebrities joined them, including George and Amal Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Common, Jennifer Hudson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
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But the March for Our Lives was not about star power.
As Stoneman Douglas Student Ryan Deitsch said in his D.C. speech, “Movie stars in the crowd, we might have videos on these screens but this is not the Oscars. This is real life, this is reality, this is what’s happening in our country and around the world today.”
“We’re done hiding, we’re done being afraid,” he said. “Though I know we March today, this isn’t the end. This is the beginning. It’s time to fight for our lives.”