Miami Beach, FL - Days after the tragic events at Stoneman Douglas High School, a nationwide march was planned by the Never Again movement, which emerged from the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida this past Valentine’s day. Today, a march was held in solidarity with several others occurring simultaneously around the country.
Thousands gathered early this morning at Miami Beach High, where organizers were ready with t-shirts and posters they distributed among the attendees; many of whom also brought their own signage. A stage with a “March for Our Lives” branded pulpit was set up in the south east corner of the campus, where several speakers would rally the crowd before the march.
A carousel of Miami-Dade notables would take the makeshift platform around 9:45 am. Among them was newly-elected City of Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez, and Miami’s prodigal superintendent, Alberto M. Carvalho, who delivered his first of two speeches on the day. “Today is the day” was Carvalho’s chosen refrain, displaying the knack of a natural politician.
Oliver Gilbert III, the Mayor of Miami Gardens, was also among the line-up of speakers, exhorting the people to look past race and ethnicity to come together for the cause of gun control. He asked if anyone really needed an AR-15 or should have the right to buy more than twenty automatic weapons in one year. The crowd responded to each of his rhetorical questions with a resounding “No!”. Philip Levine, former Miami Beach Mayor, and current candidate for Governor of the State shared a few words, as well.
Past and present alumni from Stoneman Douglas were also there. The most emotional speech was given by Michaela Manning, a Stoneman Douglas junior, who had to fight back tears as she lamented her friend and classmate’s passing during the tragedy at her school, knowing that she would never again sit beside her. It was another Stoneman Douglas alumni, Alex Margetts, who had the honors of kicking off the march itself. He is now a senior at the University of Miami.
A few minutes past 10 am, the mass of people began moving towards Dade Boulevard, which had been blocked off by police. They marched only a short distance to the Bass Museum a few blocks away on Collins Avenue, where another, more professional stage was set up for the closing rally.
Current Miami Beach Mayor, Dan Gelber’s 17-year old daughter, Hannah Gelber, warned NRA-beholden legislators about her upcoming birthday in August, when she would turn 18, and become eligible to vote. Hannah compared the number of teenagers in Florida with the far lesser number of NRA members in the state, illustrating how formidable a united teenage voting block would be. Her proud father took the stage after her, and reinforced his daughter’s message with the panache of a professional. Mayor Gelber roused the marchers with charged words and clenched fists before introducing, Superintendent Carvalho, who delivered speech number two of the day, and then left the stage for the ensuing musical performances, kicked off by one of the Marley clan, with a rendition of Bob Marley’s classic “Get Up Stand Up”.