Activists placed 7,000 pairs of shoes in front of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to commemorate the children killed by gun violence since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and promote gun control legislation. Each pair of shoes commemorated one child killed in less than six years.
The temporary installation was organized by the global advocacy group Avaaz, which placed three billboards outside Marco Rubio’s headquarters in Florida hours after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting to shame the lawmaker for his gun policy.
Some people traveled across the country to place their shoes to protest Congress’ response to gun violence. The father of a child killed in the Columbine shooting brought the shoes of his deceased son to place at the Capitol.
“I’ll be traveling to DC literally wearing my son Daniel’s shoes, the ones he wore the day he died at Columbine. I think this kind of event with shoes offers a very powerful metaphor both for how we miss the victims who once filled those shoes, and also for how we see ourselves wanting to walk in their place, seeking change, so that others don’t have to walk this painful journey,” Tom Mauser, the father, said.
Avaaz’s planned installation in Washington, which also featured shoes of some celebrities, comes during a wave of gun control activism. On Wednesday, a month since the nation’s last school shooting, a 17-minute school walkout will occur across the country to commemorate the 17 students killed.
7000 shoes outside the U.S. Capitol rn to represent the children who lost their lives due to guns since Sandy Hook. Tom Mauser brought a pair of his son Daniel’s shoes to help w/ this installation. Daniel was 15 when he was shot and killed at Columbine. #NotOneMore @Avaaz @MoveOn pic.twitter.com/ibUXjzyQU2— Sara Kenigsberg (@skenigsberg) March 13, 2018
A press release published by Avaaz said the 7,000 shoes will help keep national attention on gun control as the March 24 protest approaches.
“Just before the March for our Lives, Avaaz will bring the heartbreak of gun violence to Conrgess’ doorstop,” it read.
The continuing pressure on politicians could signify a change in the national discourse on gun control. While outrage has swelled after previous mass and school shootings, it has not prompted changes in legislation or corporate action. After Parkland, though, large businesses, like Walmart and Kroger, changed their policy for gun sales.
Sustained pressure, maintained through activist demonstrations like the one staged by Avaaz, can help catalyze genuine political change and hopefully protect children in school.