HOUSTON – Houston police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted that around 15,000 Houstonians gathered for "March for Our Lives" events throughout the Houston area Saturday.
"Thank you all. Who came out and exercised their rights in a responsible and productive manner today. Especially want to thank the young folks in the crowd of approximately 15,000," Acevedo tweeted.
The thousands who marched through the streets near City Hall added their voices to the March for Our Lives rallies in Washington and across the nation.
The crowd chanted, “What do we want? Gun Control. When do we want it? Now.”
Many of the faces in the crowd were young -- high school and college-age students -- which marks this current movement. Students have said they felt spurred to action by the deadly shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers.
“I'm tired of going to school and being scared all the time,” said student Shannon O’Quinn.
The march passed by Rep. Ted Cruz's office. Their goal is to have Congress pass stricter gun control laws.
“I want a ban on bump stocks,” Yoly Villarreal said. “I want a ban on AR-15's. I want bullets to not be so readily available and I want my kids to be able to go to school and not to have to practice lockdown drills.”
A small group on the other side of the issue stood quietly with AR-15's strapped to their bodies.
“We can protect our kids with guns,” said demonstrator Megan Bates. “People are saying they're bad and they're harmful. I've been raised around guns my whole life and nothing bad has ever happened. You have to teach them gun control.”
Standing near Cruz’s office, Houston’s Police Chief commented on the march.
“No one said we should take away our guns,” Acevedo said. “What people are talking about is we are not doing as much as we can as a nation in a pragmatic manner to pass laws that will do more to keep firearms in the hands of law-abiding Americans.”
There were speeches by Houston politicians, teachers and students joining the national conversation.
“Together we are angered and outraged and ready for change,” said one student speaker.
“I'm a teacher,” one woman said. “As our elected officials, you need to do something better than half-baked ideas of turning our teachers into soldiers.”
Several "March for Our Lives" events were planned throughout the Houston area Saturday.
The events were listed as nonpartisan and organized by students, parents and teachers. Rachel Schelly, 102, planned to march alongside the group.
“I love young people and they have certainly gone through a lot and I just feel like I want to support them,” Schelly said.
Schelly was inspired to take part in the rally event after the deadly Parkland shooting.
Schelly said she’s not a fan of guns, let alone guns used to commit mass shootings.
“My heart aches,” the centenarian said. “When I hear these things, my heart aches and I just feel, how can someone do that? I couldn’t even kill an animal.”
Schelly also took part in Houston events in January 2017 in solidarity with the National Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
She will take part in the march at Tranquility Park with her daughter.
Here are the events, as listed by MarchforOurLives.com.
March for Our Lives - Houston, TX
400 Rusk St.
Houston, TX 77002
Houston Heights March for Our Lives
Heights High School
413 E 13th St.
Houston, TX 77008
March for Our Lives -- Sugar Land & Missouri City
Sugar Land Memorial Park
15300 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, TX 77479
The Woodlands, TX March for Our Lives
125 Sawdust Road
Spring, TX 77382
Galveston March for Our Lives Seawall Rally
Fort Crockett Park
Fort Crockett Park on Seawall Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77551