The mood was festive, but the message was serious Saturday as supporters of safe schools gathered at the Rhode Island State House. The “March for Our Lives” in Providence was one of over 800 events worldwide organized to protest school shootings and call for legislation aimed at stemming school violence.

A large crowd estimated at over 5,000, which included a high percentage of students, attended the rally on a chilly March afternoon, with temperature in the low 40’s.

Area Students Marching at RI State House

The student-led March was created and organized by survivors of the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Locally, Moms Demand Action RI co-sponsored the event. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, helped with planning and coordinating the event nationally.

Several student speakers spoke passionately about the need for stronger gun laws. They urged the crowd to not let heightened school security become the new normal.

Halima Ibrahim, a sophomore at the Islamic School of Rhode Island, offered an impassioned speech.

“You know the saying when you’re given lemons make lemonade…well when you’re given mass shootings make better gun laws…. Do not let this become the new normal. Wake up! No civilian should ever be able to purchase a weapon of war. Wake Up!”

Several state officials, including Governor Raimondo and Senator Whitehouse also appeared.

“They are called military style weapons because they belong in the military. They do not belong in our schools, in our streets and in our communities,” noted Raimondo.

The consistent message from all speakers – reduce gun violence and force legislators to develop sensible gun laws.

WhatsUpNewp was there and snapped a few photos of the day’s events. (Photos by Ken Abrams and Ken Shane.)