On Saturday, while as many as 500,000 people are expected to gather in Washington, D.C., for the student-led March For Our Lives, residents of a senior community about 15 miles away on Georgia Avenue are planning a protest of their own.
“Protect Grandchildren, Not Guns” will take place on the sidewalk outside Leisure World from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Barbara J. Salkin, a resident and organizer of the event, said many residents of the Silver Spring community—which has 8,000 residents who are over the age of 55—had marched for civil rights and Vietnam War protests in their lifetimes. And while many are “not exactly the kind of people who go downtown and march anymore,” they still feel passionately about the issue of gun control and ending gun violence, she said.
“We want to do something. We want to be heard. We want to show the high school students that are making this tremendous effort that we too care about them,” Salkin said Friday morning. “And since many of us who live here in Leisure World are grandparents and since many of us do worry about our grandchildren, that would be our calling card.”
Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them students and young people, are expected to attend the March For Our Lives rally in D.C. starting at noon. The event was planned by the survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Since the attack that left 17 dead, there has been a groundswell of public support for gun control and anti-gun violence measures. Students at Montgomery County schools have joined in walkouts and other protests that have occurred locally and across the country.
Salkin said Leisure World residents thought it was important to show that they stand with the students. Though she doesn’t know how many will join in Saturday’s protest, she said the event has been publicized within the community and garnered a “tremendous amount of support.” The residents will be standing on a sidewalk along Georgia Avenue carrying signs and chanting and yelling, she said.
While her generation might not be at the helm of the D.C. march, Salkin said she does see the student protest as the start of a significant movement like those of the 1960s and ‘70s.
“To us, this is an opportunity again that I think we never anticipated–for a moment to come, a moment to come in which people stand up and say ‘Enough,’ and hopefully this time it will make a difference.”