Miami Beach is famous for debauchery, not debate. But Saturday morning, more than 3,000 people showed up to protest Florida's lousy gun laws and the watered down measure that was recently approved by the state legislature.
Rapper Flo Rida addressed the crowd. So did singer Emily Estefan, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, and Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho, who said, "Today is the students proclaim that they cannot be ignored."
The protesters met around 10 a.m. and marched from Miami Beach Senior High to Collins Parks, carrying signs that demanded action and recalled the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, 50 miles away in Parkland, where a march was also held.
"Hi hi-ho ho, Rubio has got to go," chanted one group.
The three-hour long rally paralleled others in Washington D.C., Tallahassee, and across the country. It had a strong dose of anti-Donald Trump sentiment as one sign read: "I've seen smarter cabinets at Ikea," and another termed the president.
"We want a leader, not a racist tweeter," was another chant.
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Most of the really moving moments came from students who addressed the crowd. Hannah Gelber, Mayor Gelber's 17-year-old daughter and granddaughter of former Beach Mayor Sy Gelber, told the crowd her birthday is coming up, and she plans to cast a ballot. "I will vote against any candidate who takes money from the NRA," she said "They will have to listen to me."
Raven Bedford, age 19, was one of the march's organizers. She teared up while giving a powerful speech that described her friendship with Joaquin Oliver, one of the 17 students who was shot dead in the attack by Nikolas Cruz at Stoneman Douglas. (Oliver became particularly well known among the victims after he was buried in a Dwyane Wade jersey.) Bedford said she used to walk home with Oliver from middle school. "I prayed that he would be found alive," she said sobbing just a little. "My passion is to never see another community ruined by gun violence."