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Teens lead downtown March for Our Lives rally

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds lined the sidewalk surrounding the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday for the March for Our Lives rally, a local response to a national movement against gun violence in schools.

By rough count, more than 1,000 Hoosiers attended the march outside and inside the building, including high schoolers, parents, teachers and state legislators.

Groups outside either stood along the sidewalk with signs or walked around the property, chanting for change to Indiana’s gun laws, restrictions on the National Rifle Association (NRA), and more compassion towards victims of gun violence. Others shouted their opinions of President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Inside, hundreds of attendees listened to youth speakers, watched performances, and wrote letters to their representatives.

Two high school students involved in the Indiana Museum of Art’s Teen Art Council at Newfields explained their role in the event.

“We have an area where you can make posters and also an area where you can decorate postcards to send to our senators,” said Meredith Ho, a student at Carmel High School.

“All people need to do is decorate it with their message and we’ll put a stamp on it and mail it,” added Meredith Farrar, a student at Herron High School in Indianapolis.

Both agreed that Saturday was a day to highlight teen activism.

“Sometimes we look back through history and wonder if I’ll ever go through something like that, and it’s really amazing to see a movement such as this,” said Farrar. “Knowing that you’re so involved in it because the teens are the forefront of this and teens are leading the movement.”

Others watching speakers inside the Statehouse agreed.

“I remember things back in the 1960s and this reminds me of that time where back then it was also the youth who were coming forward and speaking of an injustice and I think that’s what we’re seeing again today,” said Sandy Key, adding she was at the Statehouse specifically to support the youth.

There were a few pro-gun activists who attended the march, and the opposing groups got in several verbal arguments outside. Otherwise the event was peaceful and patrolled by IMPD and Indiana State Police.

State Rep. John Bartlett (D – District 95) was in attendance. He said school safety laws are his priority when the Indiana legislature reconvenes in May.

“Indiana is a good place to live,” Bartlett said. “We have to make it safe for our children. That’s our job as legislators and we have to get it done.”

Delaney Mortimore, a student at Lawrence Central High School, took the podium inside the statehouse around 12:30 p.m.

“We aren’t kids so we can’t act like kids. We are young adults who are ready for change,” she said to cheers from the crowd.

Mortimore said the day Lawrence Central students walked out of class for 17 minutes in memory of the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting was the best day of her life.

“Standing in front of hundreds of my peers, yelling about what I believe, it sure felt good,” she said, “but seeing their passion bounce right back at me is what made it truly worthwhile.”

“I felt as an adult, nothing has been done, it’s like thoughts and prayers but no action,” said JoAnn Farrington, another attendee.

Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, said she was encouraged by the sight of young adults speaking their minds in a public forum.

“This is their moment to voice their opinions, ask questions of elected officials and lawmakers and it think it’s a tremendous experience for them,” she said.

Our 24-Hour News 8 crews were unable to speak with the few pro-gun activists who attended the rally Saturday, but noted some veterans in attendance saying the right to bear arms is crucial to the success of our country.

The Trump Administration tweeted Friday afternoon: “Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period. We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.”