Tens of thousands of students, parents, and anti-gun violence advocates were in Boston Saturday for an emotionally charged day rallying to tighten gun laws across the country.
Nationwide, hundreds of thousands joined the "March for Our Lives" rally, with the largest gathering being in Washington, D.C.
Police estimated more than 50,000 people participated in a peaceful march through the city streets as Boston joined worldwide rallies. Other estimates were closer to 100,000.
Locally, the event ended with a rally on Boston Common, where students and teachers spoke of the gun violence that has torn apart lives from the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to the streets of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan.
"Enough is Enough" said a sign held by Sydney Craig, a student at Shawsheen High School in Billerica. She was one of about 5,000 people who participated in a march from the city's Roxbury neighborhood to downtown.
Rallies also took place in other Massachusetts communities, including Ipswich, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Springfield and Worcester. Some, such as Boston's rally, included voter registration.
"We're not just gonna stand back and be quiet," said Eden Alemayehu, 17, a student at Lexington High School. She said better background checks are one way that politicians can limit gun ownership. "You shouldn't be able to walk into a store and legally purchase a gun at age 18."
Shellby Falco, 17, said there was a threat of violence last year at her school, Medford High School, although nothing resulted. "It was very anxiety-raising," she said, recalling how students and staff had to shelter in place.
"I want politicians to step up," and work to reduce gun violence, she said.
Eighteen-year-old Destiny Smith-Matta said she's increasingly worried about President Donald Trump's suggestion that teachers be armed. ``Teachers of color who are armed will mistakenly be identified as a suspect,'' she said. The freshman at Lesley University in Cambridge called such a move "damaging."
Craig, from Billerica, said she has been in school when there have been threats involving guns. "It's very frightening'' she said. "It's very serious that (someone) can come into the school one day and shoot and possibly kill a bunch of students and teachers."
Families of some of the 17 Florida school shooting victims flew to Washington with the help of the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who allowed them to fly on the team's charter plane.
Both locally and nationally, speakers reminded supporters of tighter gun regulations that that there was an important way they could push for gun reform: register to vote and go to the polls. According to many of the student speakers at the Washington rally, voting is the only way to pressure politicians to propose legislation that would meet the movement's demands, which include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"Let’s take this to our local legislators and let’s take this to midterm elections," said David Hogg, one of the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who helped organize the march. "Because without the persistent heat, without the persistence of voters and Americans everywhere getting out to every election, democracy will not flourish."
In Boston, there were also a large number of students that registered up to vote in the next election, or took papers home to fill out to register to vote.