Photo Essay: March for Our Lives, LA

 [Image Description: A young woman looks head on, with the word 'enough' written across her cheeks] 

[Image Description: A young woman looks head on, with the word 'enough' written across her cheeks] 

Interviews have been edited for clarity

 

Through the wave of protests since Trump took office nothing has inspired young people to take the streets quite like gun violence. It makes sense – it’s a universal issue that threatens all students safety across socioeconomic lines. It’s enough to keep anyone up at night.

 [Image Description: Four young people stand on a red barrier holding signs. The first sign says "I'm too young to die." The second sign says "Are my sister and I next?", the next sign says "How much is the NRA paying you to kill us?" The last sign has a drawing of the top of a black person's head with a large afro, and around the afro says "March for our lives" underneath the eyes says "Dear Government Officials"]

[Image Description: Four young people stand on a red barrier holding signs. The first sign says "I'm too young to die." The second sign says "Are my sister and I next?", the next sign says "How much is the NRA paying you to kill us?" The last sign has a drawing of the top of a black person's head with a large afro, and around the afro says "March for our lives" underneath the eyes says "Dear Government Officials"]

It’s Samantha’s first march – she’s 8 and overwhelmed and when I asked why she was marching she shyly said, “to stop gun violence.”

 [Image Description: A photo of Samantha, an eight year old with glasses and cherubic cheeks holding a sign with the world "March for our lives."]

[Image Description: A photo of Samantha, an eight year old with glasses and cherubic cheeks holding a sign with the world "March for our lives."]

Thousands of young people took to the streets on Saturday, many for the first time, because it’s a tangible issue for them. More importantly it’s because the call to action was from kids their age.

“I got involved because I was tired of feeling useless. I wanted to prove that kids could make a difference. I was finally seeing some kids who could make a difference and I wanted to join that. I’ve always been very passionate about a lot of issues but I’ve never taken the time to stand up for them and hearing that I can have a voice has really changed that for me.” – Cat Lake, 14

 [Image Description: Cat stands in a March for our lives t shirt and lanyard, holding a megaphone]

[Image Description: Cat stands in a March for our lives t shirt and lanyard, holding a megaphone]

 [Image Description: A person stands against the sky with a sign that says "I'm gay and I hate the NRA. To their left is a child with a hand written sign advocating for "harder gun-licenses" The child's sign has a drawing of a 'gun school' with little figures going in.]

[Image Description: A person stands against the sky with a sign that says "I'm gay and I hate the NRA. To their left is a child with a hand written sign advocating for "harder gun-licenses" The child's sign has a drawing of a 'gun school' with little figures going in.]

 [Image Description: A crowded street filled with people holding March for our lives signs.]

[Image Description: A crowded street filled with people holding March for our lives signs.]

We’ve fallen into a cycle of sending thoughts and prayers, interviewing some parents, and moving on. We ignore shootings all together if they happened in lower income areas. The Parkland kids “called B.S.”

 [Image Description: Two children hold signs in the center of a street. Their signs say "Are our lives worth your guns?" And "Protect Us!" with a crossed out drawing of a gun. 

[Image Description: Two children hold signs in the center of a street. Their signs say "Are our lives worth your guns?" And "Protect Us!" with a crossed out drawing of a gun. 

 

“I joined because I saw what was happening in Parkland and I thought it was both surreal and inspiring. There were these kids standing up for what they believe in and making a change in their community and society which meant a lot to me. It really inspired me and I felt like I needed to get involved for my peers and for the generations younger than me.” – Carly Dutcher, 15

 [Image Description: a black and white portrait of Carly Dutcher, she wears a march for our lives shirt and lanyard, and has long hair and looks serious.]

[Image Description: a black and white portrait of Carly Dutcher, she wears a march for our lives shirt and lanyard, and has long hair and looks serious.]

Yes, black and brown and marginalized students statistically experience a more regular threat. Yes, the world didn’t really pay attention until the Parkland kids took the mic. And yes, it’s problematic that it had to be kids from an affluent suburb to gain national attention.

 [Image Description: Three people walk down a street holding signs. The photo is focussed on a woman in a hijab holding a sign with the words "Am I Next? Protect" with a drawing of little colourful people]

[Image Description: Three people walk down a street holding signs. The photo is focussed on a woman in a hijab holding a sign with the words "Am I Next? Protect" with a drawing of little colourful people]

When confronted with this, they brought in the marginalized groups who have been fighting for years. They are using their privilege to amplify an issue that threatens everyone in America and to raise voices that have been ignored.

 

“I’ve always tried to be politically active and engaged in civic duties but you do feel useless as a kid. This movement is so important because it makes us feel like we’re not useless as young people and we’re the ones who actually need to make the change – this has made a difference for a lot of young people” – Olivia Dutcher, 17

 [Image Description: Olivia has long hair and looks seriously into the camera]

[Image Description: Olivia has long hair and looks seriously into the camera]

Most importantly, they are setting an example for their generation. They’re showing that if you get the mic, make sure you share it. They’re inspiring kids across the country to get up and make a change. They’re proving that you aren’t too young to change the world, and it doesn’t matter if you’re taken seriously. 

 [Image Description: Carly, Olivia and Cat stand together for a picture. They look seriously into the camera. They are wearing matching yellow March for Our Lives shirts and Olivia has raised her fist into the air]

[Image Description: Carly, Olivia and Cat stand together for a picture. They look seriously into the camera. They are wearing matching yellow March for Our Lives shirts and Olivia has raised her fist into the air]

 [Image Description:  A group of children hold sketches of others killed in school shootings]

[Image Description:  A group of children hold sketches of others killed in school shootings]

 [Image Description: a young woman holds a sign saying "Is my school next?" the names of schools that have suffered shootings tornado in a horrible frame around her words.]

[Image Description: a young woman holds a sign saying "Is my school next?" the names of schools that have suffered shootings tornado in a horrible frame around her words.]

“I feel like people are starting to know we have a voice and that we need to start using it.” – Rhoman Keitzman, 14

 [Image Description: Rhoman, a young person with an afro, hoop earrings and a smile stands with a sign that says "How come all the guns haven't kept U.S. safe from all the guns yet?"]

[Image Description: Rhoman, a young person with an afro, hoop earrings and a smile stands with a sign that says "How come all the guns haven't kept U.S. safe from all the guns yet?"]

 [Image Description: Two young children march in the street holding signs, one holds their sign next to his body, the other holds a sign that is written in childish handwriting and I honestly can't read it, it has a drawing of a globe, a backwards American flag and a crossed out gun.]

[Image Description: Two young children march in the street holding signs, one holds their sign next to his body, the other holds a sign that is written in childish handwriting and I honestly can't read it, it has a drawing of a globe, a backwards American flag and a crossed out gun.]

When asked if they thought their generation would be the ones to change things every kid I talked to said the same thing – ”definitely.”

 

“I think we’re going to work hard to stop it since we’re aware – a lot of people don’t think that kids are as smart as we are” – Mercy Richter, 12

 [Image Description: Mercy stands proudly displaying a sign saying "I shouldn't have to be scared to go to school." She wears a shirt with the words "Strong Female Leader."

[Image Description: Mercy stands proudly displaying a sign saying "I shouldn't have to be scared to go to school." She wears a shirt with the words "Strong Female Leader."

 

“Our generation will definitely be the ones to make a difference – if you see what’s happening now it’s crazy it’s all brought about by kids our age – it’s our generation that’s making change.” – Cat Lake, 14

 [Image Description: Two sets of hands are clear above the density of the crowd. On each palm are the words, "Never" or "Again". The phrase "Never Again" is from the Jewish community, an anti Holocaust phrase and motto of the Jewish Defense League and has been adopted by the anti gun violence movement. ]

[Image Description: Two sets of hands are clear above the density of the crowd. On each palm are the words, "Never" or "Again". The phrase "Never Again" is from the Jewish community, an anti Holocaust phrase and motto of the Jewish Defense League and has been adopted by the anti gun violence movement. ]

 


Molly Adams is an LA-based photographer documenting stories from Afghanistan to Standing Rock to queer clubs. You can find her on Instagram.