The crowd of protesters outside Virginia’s Capitol numbered in the hundreds, but the Republican-controlled General Assembly did nothing to appease them.
Chants echoed off the buildings in front of Virginia’s State Capitol as protesters rallied for stricter gun control laws Tuesday morning.
Hundreds of protesters representing various organizations came from across the state and up and down the east coast to participate.
The protest was scheduled around the General Assembly’s special session, where Democrats proposed a slate of bills to address gun violence in Virginia. The session had been called by Governor Ralph Northam after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach on May 31 left 12 people dead.
National organizations like Moms Demand Action, March For Our Lives, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence brought large crowds and led most of the chants.
“Today is an opportunity to end an epidemic that has claimed 10,000 lives in Virginia since [the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007],” said Kim Brown, President of Brady, and a native Virginian. The organization came down from their office in Washington, DC to rally for the historic vote.
Smaller organizations like Black Top Basketball, a non-profit youth basketball organization from Portsmouth, also came to demonstrate. Carlton Copeland, founder of the organization, brought players along with him, and was accompanied by Dr. Julius Hayes, who advocates for stricter gun laws in the Hampton Roads area.
“We’re out here to stop the shootings,” said DaMon Maio, a 14-year-old Black Top player.
Opponents of gun control legislation were present in smaller numbers, and quietly waited outside the capitol after lobbying.
Tammy Lee and the group she came with travelled from states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and South Carolina to lobby and rally on behalf of what she called “the American patriots.”
Ultimately, the special session ended after 90 minutes, when Republicans in both chambers decided to postpone a vote on legislation until November. Governor Northam released a statement condemning the quick adjournment.
“I expected lawmakers to take this seriously. I expected them to do what their constituents elected them to do — discuss issues and take votes,” Northam stated. “It is shameful and disappointing that Republicans in the General Assembly refuse to do their jobs, and take immediate action to save lives.”
Top: The rally took place on the corner of 9th and Bank Streets. Protestors were restricted to the sidewalks and grass. (Photo by Hadley Chittum)