They marched 17 miles in 105-degree heat, that later broke into a pouring storm, and 50 mph gusts of wind. But they rallied for two days.
Women’s March organizers led hundreds of demonstrators on a march from the headquarters of the National Rifle Association to the Justice Department Friday, July 14 to protest what they called the gun lobby’s disregard for the lives of people of color, the Washington Post reported.
“We are not trying to stop gun ownership,” said Carmen Perez, an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington, outside the NRA. “We are trying to stop the violence that comes with it.”
The demonstration was a response to a one minute recruitment video released by the NRA last month that was criticized by some for provoking fear and inciting violence. NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch narrates the video and comments that protest groups and demonstrators “bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness.”
Women’s March Founder Tamika Mallory, wrote an open letter to NRA executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, asking first, that the video to be removed, second for an apology, and third that the NRA defend the rights of Philando Castile as a legal gun owner, and indict the police officer who shot him.
Philando Castile, a black man, was shot by police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop after informing Yanez that he was in legal possession of a firearm.
The NRA released a brief statement shortly after Castile’s death that did not name him, and had indicated it would more fully address the police incident after the legal process but has yet to release another statement. The NRA has been criticized for remaining silent on the issue and accused of only defending white gun owners.
“In the NRA’s mission statement on their website, they say that they are one of the oldest civil rights organizations,” Mallory told the Huffington Post. “If that is, in fact, the case, if that is the history that they want to claim, Philando Castile should be one of the first people that they speak on behalf of. If you’re following in the tradition of the civil rights movement, Philando Castile is an example of exactly what it means to defend the civil rights of a person who has been violated by this country.”
The NRA responded by releasing a second video saying the left needed to “grow up” and stop protesting.
“I believe that Philando Castile had a right to bear arms and a right to life, and that was brutally taken from him,” said Sydney Stewart, a college student living in the District for the summer, the Post reported “That’s why I’m marching.”
The first protest march from the NRA headquarters in Fairfax County was the start of a two-day rally. The second rally was held Saturday morning in front of the Justice Department. Protesters carried “Black Lives Matter” signs and chanted “None of us are safe ‘til all of us are safe”
Bob Bland, another organizer of the Women’s March, told the Post the rally was meant to draw a connection between the NRA and the Justice Department, for failing to treat whites and minorities equally.
“We’re marching to the DOJ because Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice’s racist decisions over the years are putting people of color at direct impact,” she said.
“This is all part of the revolving door between the gun industry and the halls of power in Washington.”