INDIANAPOLIS — Protesters started lining up before 10 a.m., and by 11 a.m., the crowd had wrapped all the way around the Statehouse and across the street.
It was snowing and cold, but the crowd didn’t mind waiting. They had come to join hundreds of thousands of people across the country to rally for gun reform.
Some children wasted the time by building snowmen. Others learned about how to register to vote. When Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, walked through the crowd, they shook his hand and thanked him for coming.
Annalise Janke, 16, and Dora Reed, 14, from Fishers, Indiana, spent their time starting chants the whole line eventually joined in on.
“Tell me what democracy looks like!” they shouted.
“This is what democracy looks like!” others responded.
Janke and Reed were among hundreds who gathered at the Statehouse on March 24 to rally for gun reform and fight against gun violence in Indiana and across the country.
The rally was one of more than 800 solidarity events to the Washington, D.C., March for Our Lives. The marches drew hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the country. Protesters stood in opposition of gun violence and in solidarity with the members of the Parkland, Florida, community where a Feb. 14 school shooting left 17 dead.
Janke said students shouldn’t have to go to school and worry about getting shot.
“We want to make a statement,” Janke said. “We’re not going to give up until change is made.”
Reed agreed, saying they participated in walkouts at their school but wanted to do something that would reach the minds of lawmakers.
State and national lawmakers, including Donnelly, spoke at the rally. He urged members of the crowd to vote.
“Are you ready to stand up for our kids, our families and ourselves?” he asked.
Jennifer McCormick, Indiana state superintendent of public instruction, also spoke. She said she would remain focused on security and safety issues at schools but urged students to be smart, purposeful and respectful.
As she left the stage, instead of cheering, the crowd shouted, “Ban assault weapons!”
Throughout the atrium, booths were set up where people could register to vote or learn more about the organizations that set up the rally.
Claire Porter, 18, from Carmel, Indiana, was working at a booth where people could write postcards to their representatives. The booth was run by the Teen Arts Council at the Newfields Museum in Indianapolis.
She said political participation is important and writing to representatives is a good way to take part.
She added personally, it’s exciting to see young people becoming so politically mobilized since they haven’t always been in the past.
While many speakers addressed national gun violence, most also brought up the gun violence that plagues Indianapolis with homicide rates increasing each year.
Christa Frazier told the story of her son who was fatally shot in May 2017. She repeated what many speakers had been saying throughout the day: enough is enough.
“Our children should not have to go to school and be scared,” Frazier said.
The death of Frazier’s son led Brandon Warren, 18, to start We LIVE Indy, an organization against youth violence run by high school students. We LIVE Indy helped organize Saturday’s rally.
Warren ended the speeches by saying how grateful he was for all of the support he’s received but that more needs to be done. As a country, the United States has become too reactive rather than proactive, Warren said.
“We fight for justice,” he said. “We fight for unity.”
After the rally, protestors made their way outside of the Statehouse. They passed people still in line trying to get inside. On the sidewalk stood a man wearing a camouflage hat and carrying an assault rifle on his shoulder.
Protestors stood on the stairs across from him holding up signs and shouting:
“Kids, not guns!”
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