Activists and families of gun violence victims protest with 7,000 shoes on Congress’ doorstep
The Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, took place just six years ago, in which 26 people were killed — 20 of whom were young children. Since then, thousands more have died in school shootings.
On Tuesday, the 7,000 children who have lost their lives from gun violence since Sandy Hook are being remembered with an eye-opening visual memorial on the southeast lawn outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Avaaz, a global activism organization founded in 2007, has placed 7,000 pairs of empty shoes side-by-side on the lawn — one pair for each child killed by a gun. The shoes include pairs from families who lost their children in school shootings across America.
The memorial, which will remain on the lawn until 2 p.m., will also feature shoes from celebrities like Alyssa Milano, and citizens from around the country.
The installation appears one day before a scheduled nationwide school and university walkout, planned by a group associated with Women’s March organizers called EMPOWER.
On Wednesday — exactly one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — teachers, students, and faculty members across the U.S. are invited to leave their schools for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. local time, to honor the 17 lives of those killed on Feb. 14.
The shoe memorial is also raising awareness for the March For Our Lives, a March 24 protest organized by Stoneman Douglas student activists, in which kids, families, and concerned citizens will march the streets of Washington, D.C., and other cities to demand that Congress take action on gun control.
Though this particular memorial is raising awareness on the tragic casualties of gun violence, Avaaz has used empty shoes for activism efforts in the past. After large demonstrations were temporarily banned in Paris in the wake of the 2015 terror attacks, the group placed thousands of shoes in Paris’ Place de la Republique to represent people protesting ahead of the COP21 climate summit. The shoes included pairs from Pope Francis and then-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
After the 7,000 pairs of shoes are removed from Congress’ doorstep on Tuesday, they will be donated to local homeless shelters and other people in need.