Several hundred demonstrators spent June 14 walking through heat and humidity to protest the National Rifle Association, gun violence, and racism. The Women’s March organized the 18-mile trek from the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia to the Department of Justice in downtown DC. Protestors spent the night in the city before returning to the Department of Justice the next morning to continue the rally.
The #NRA2DOJ march was sparked last month when Women’s March Inc. Co-President Tamika Mallory wrote an open letter in response to a viral NRA ad. The ad features NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch and denounces violence from the Left. Mallory called the video a “direct attack on people of color” and demanded the NRA take down the video, apologize, and issue a statement defending Philando Castile, a lawful gun owner shot by a Minnesota police man.
“It is clear that your organization does not value the legal rights nor the human rights of any of us,” the letter read. “Unless the NRA takes immediate action, the Women’s March will exercise our First Amendment right by calling for a mass mobilization.”
The NRA instead released a second video directly addressing Mallory. The march began at the NRA headquarters, where a counter-protest joined them. Along the route, protestors shouted chants like “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “This is what democracy looks like,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go.” Many in the crowd also showed support for Black Lives Matter.
“I would like them to eliminate assault weapons,” said one woman with the march. “I don’t think they need to go away completely, but they certainly need to be better regulated.”
An armed police escort traveled with the group. The protest marched past the White House, where they paused to shout “Shame! Shame!” One woman displayed her middle finger as she walked past. The group disbanded upon arrival at the Department of Justice, and some boarded a bus to the shared housing for the night.
When the protest returned Saturday morning, they met a small counter-protest carrying signs and a Gadsden flag.
“There’s been an attack on the freedom of speech,” said Dan Weber, who was part of the counter-protest. “There’s been an attack on our Second Amendment rights. And nationally, an attack on our Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.”
Saturday’s rally at the Department of Justice opened with a song with the lyrics, “Went down to the White House to take back what they stole from me/and I took back my dignity/and I took back my humanity/and it’s under my feet.” Protestors also heard from a variety of activists, including leftist American Muslim Linda Sarsour and Mallory herself.
“You should be outraged that the NRA refuses to directly address the injustice in Philando Castile’s death,” shouted Women’s March Inc. Co-President Bob Bland, directing her speech toward the counter-protest across the street. “He was a licensed gun owner just like you.”