WASHINGTON: Activists placed thousands of pairs of shoes on the lawn outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. to memorialize children killed by gun violence.
The demonstration was planned by international advocacy group Avaaz to represent the number of children killed by guns since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
The 7,000 shoes in the “Monument for our Kids” installment represent every child that was killed by gunfire since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, according to Avaaz.
The memorial was part of a grass-roots movement that grew out of the killing of 17 students and staff at a Florida high school a month ago.
About 1,300 people below the age of 18 are killed by gunfire in the United States every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Wednesday, students will again take center stage in the political theater over guns that has gripped the country since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The national walkout will last 17 minutes, beginning at 10 a.m. local time, to commemorate the 17 victims who lost their lives in the Florida massacre. It was the deadliest school shooting since 20 children and six adults were shot dead at Sandy Hook more than five years ago.
The walkout has won the support of many school districts and civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union. More than 2,500 walkouts are scheduled across the country, according to the organizer’s website, including at Marjory Stoneman and Columbine high schools.
Mauser, a retired Colorado Department of Transportation employee, has attended dozens of gun-control demonstrations since the Columbine massacre. But he has grown cautiously optimistic about the prospects for change because of the new student involvement.
“These kids, it’s their lives. They’re not going to be distracted about Russia, about other things,” Mauser said.
The shoe memorial is reminiscent of a monument on the Danube River near the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest commemorating thousands of people, including Jews, killed by fascists in the 1940s.
Many Canadian cities have marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on Dec. 6 with similar “shoe memorials.”