Activists Strew Capitol Hill with 14,000 Shoes to Protest Gun Violence
The shoes were palced by Avaaz, an organization focused on improving lives through advocacy and social movements. (Image via ABC News)
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Activists Strew Capitol Hill with 14,000 Shoes to Protest Gun Violence

Each pair of shoes represents the life of a child taken by gun violence since the 2012 Newton shooting.

Seven thousand pairs of shoes were placed on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to commemorate the children who have lost their lives to gun violence. Each pair of shoes represents one child who has died since the 2012 Newton shooting.

The protest, called the Monument For Our Kids, was organized by Avaaz, an organization of activists who focus on improving lives across the globe through advocacy and social movements.

In addition to commemorating the 7,000 children the nation has lost since 2012, Avaaz intended the display to make a statement to the government about gun violence, a problem that has drawn heightened scrutiny since the Parkland shootings one month ago today.

The monument stresses an issue that both government gun-supporters and gun-control activists alike are working to solve: gun-related deaths.

Oscar Soria, a member of the Avaaz campaign, told ABC News that the shoes were a way to send a message to Congress members. The number of shoes placed on Capitol Hill, as well as the size of the Monument For Our Kids, was intended to communicate a powerful message to the government.

“We are bringing Congress face to face with the heartbreak of gun violence. All of these shoes cover more than 10,000 square feet,” he said.

The size of the Monument For Our Kids puts the loss of families into perspective for members of the government who saw the shoes from Capitol Hill. The shoes were a way for families to remember the children they lost from gun violence and from recent school shootings.

For Avaaz activists, the shoes were an important way to advocate for gun control. Soria said the monument is a way to speak for those who lost their lives and are no longer able to advocate for gun control.

“It’s hard when you look at the scale, over 10,000 square feet of shoes on this lawn, and you’re just confronted by the consequences of not passing gun control laws,” Avaaz deputy director Emma Ruby-Sachs said.

The Monument For Our Kids drew attention and emotion from people passing by the monument, as well as from Congress members who posted about the event on social media. Congressman Tim Ryan tweeted “…We need to keep our kids safe. We can’t let any more shoes be added.”

At a time when so many have experienced loss from school shootings and gun violence, the monument was a way for gun control activists to make their voices heard.

Today marks the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shootings, prompting school walkouts across the country in solidarity. At 10 a.m. local time, school children across the country are walking out for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 lives lost.

Two more gun-control protests are in the works. On March 24, the Walk for Our Lives will take place in Washington, D.C., as well as in cities across the country.

Then, on April 20, the Parkland survivors have called for massive school walk-outs across the country. The date commemorates the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, the first school shooting in the modern era of gun violence.

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Gabriella Evans

Northern Arizona University

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