Tens of thousands of Portlanders showed up downtown today to take part in a national protest against gun violence following last month's Parkland, Fla. high school shooting.
The angry energy of the thousands of high school students present was palpable. They had a resounding message for lawmakers: We are the next generation of voters, and we want school shootings to stop.
Today's protest comes ten days after students in Portland and around Oregon walked out of class in solidarity with the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
The massive and diverse crowd gathered in the North Park Blocks around 10 am. Families, teachers, grandparents and groups of students of all ages were counted in the protest's attendance.
A sea of signs featured statements like: "Enough is enough," "Arms are for hugging," and "I should be writing essays, not my will."
One couple, Nora and Scott Murray, were there with their two young children.
"Our kids are going to be in school soon, and it's terrifying," they said. "We feel really strongly about the need for better gun control."
Another protester, and high school student organizer, Sophia, climbed atop a small white Toyota pickup truck with megaphone in hand to rally the crowd before the march started at 10:30 am.
"Enough is enough," she yelled. "Today we march to create a world where children are not afraid to go to school. Together we stand, united we march for our lives."
Because of the enormous crowd size, the short march from the park blocks to Pioneer Courthouse Square continued for at least and hour and a half.
Savannah Jennings, a Reynolds High School student, prompted a group at Pioneer Square to a call and response while they waited for the free show from Portugal. The Man to begin.
Energized, albeit somewhat teary eyed, she said, "I lost a friend four years ago to a school shooting. Adults need to step up and put a stop to this."
The eight area high school students who eventually took to the microphone at impromptu stage at Pioneer Courthouse Square shared speeches, songs and spoken word poems that echoed Jennings' call to action to people in power.
"I'm not old enough to vote," one Portland area high school freshman said. "So I'm asking you to."
Alexandria, a Beaverton High School senior, added to lawmakers who support second amendment rights, "Remember when you told us we could be anything we wanted to when we grew up? Well, we're all grown up and we're coming for you."
Other students shared stories of being stricken with fear during school shutdowns and drills, and their anger at having to hide under desks instead of be taught.
"I want to be a nurse," one student speaker, Ellie, said, "but how can I save lives if I lose mine in high school?"
Portugal. The Man eventually took the stage a little after noon to perform a free show for the crowd. Some kids had to get atop the roof of the Pioneer Square Starbucks to get a view.
"We're listening," the band said before starting their set, "and we're so proud of you."