14K Shoes Placed Near US Capitol for Child Gun Victims - NECN
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14K Shoes Placed Near US Capitol for Child Gun Victims

Organizers said last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, served as a catalyst for creating the memorial and sending a message to lawmakers

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    Thousands of children's shoes were on display outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday as a temporary memorial to children killed by gun violence.

    The Monument for Our Kids, made up for 7,000 pairs of shoes, represents every child killed with a gun since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, organizers said. 

    The silent protest is intended to put pressure on lawmakers, Oscar Soria, spokesman for the online activist network Avaaz, told News4 last week. The group coordinated the display. 

    "Before so many of us march in our capital and across the nation, we want to call attention to all those who can't and remind Congress that part of why we march is because [gun violence victims] can't," he said.

    Gun violence survivors attended the memorial dedication. The shoes were on display until 2 p.m. Tuesday on the southeast lawn of the Capitol. 

    "We want to represent everyone who's been lost," said activist Andrew Nazdin. "We want to bring the tragedy that's been felt in communities across the country right to Congress' doorstep."

    Shoes were collected at several locations around the D.C. area, and the donation response was overwhelming. Several bags and boxes of shoes were collected in just one day at Barstons Child's Play in Northwest D.C.

    "I think people are really moved by trying to do something to prevent gun violence and see this as something they can do," Child's Play owner Simmie Kerman said.

    Organizers said last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, served as a catalyst for creating the memorial and sending a message to lawmakers.

    Nearly 1,300 children die every year after being shot, according to data published in June 2017 in the medical journal Pediatrics. Another 5,790 children are hurt, the researchers said. 

    Avaaz multiplied the fatality rate by the 5 years and three months that have passed since the Sandy Hook massacre and reached the approximate death toll figure of nearly 7,000 children's lives lost.

    Avaaz orchestrated a similar display of 11,000 shoes in Paris, in November 2015, to represent activists' opposition to climate change. Authorities cancelled planned marches after the terror attacks in the city that month. Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon were among those who donated shoes.

    Two days after the Parkland shooting, Avaaz parked three vehicles with billboards outside of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Doral, Florida. The senator opposed a ban on the rifle used in the shooting that left 17 people dead. 

    The billboards read "Slaughtered in school," "And still no gun control" and "How come, Marco Rubio?"

    The shoes are set to be donated to local homeless shelters and other charities.