Rally in Decatur Square protesting congressional inaction for gun reform

The popular band, the Indigo Girls, indicated their support for gun reform by taking part in the rally. Key member, Emily Saliers, is originally from Decatur.
The popular band, the Indigo Girls, indicated their support for gun reform by taking part in the rally. Key member, Emily Saliers, is originally from Decatur.

Hundreds of people gathered in the Decatur Square on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 17, for a rally protesting congressional failure to enact gun reform policies. 

Calls for universal back
ground checks, red flag laws and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take action were heard persistently throughout the protest.

Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action took initiative to organize the rally, and was one of many across the nation that weekend to protest congressional inaction during recess.

As a reward for “standing outside in the hot sun,” a popular music group, the Indigo Girls, performed their popular song “Let It Be Me” for the crowd, provoking excitement and cheers.

According to the Moms Demand Action website, the organization was “founded by Shannon Watts, a mother of five. The day after the Sandy Hook tragedy, Shannon started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do more to reduce gun violence. The online conversation turned into a movement of moms, dads, students, families, concerned citizens and survivors working together with our partners in the gun violence prevention movement to end this uniquely American crisis.”

When singing their verse “shine my life like a light” they added “Mitch” to the end, an allusion to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch supporter of guns.

Recently, McConnell hinted they he may be more open to change after two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio within a weekend, marking a striking shift in sentiments. He said he will focus Senate Republican’s attention on taking action regarding gun violence in September, which would cover background checks, “red flag” laws and assault weapons.

There is something fundamentally wrong with our country when our congress sees our citizens dying and refuses to save them.” Rylee Holland, an outreach leader for Students Demand Action, said during her speech at the rally. 

John Peterson, fellow Students Demand Action North Metro Atlanta leader, echoed Hollands sentiments. 

“My main motivation [in fighting for gun reform] is witnessing firsthand the attitude that’s created when we have people dying in the streets, 100 people a day, and our elected officials, who are supposed to be representing us, are more beholden to financial interests like the NRA and gun lobbying than they are to us,” Peterson said. 

As for the rally itself, Peterson was proud of it’s “amazing turn out.”

“I think that we can capitalize off of energy– when people finally wake up and realize [gun violence] is seriously wrong–and channel that into specific efforts. [These efforts include] getting the senate to act, taking up red flags laws and universal background checks.”

Speaker Jeff Binkley, of Dunwoody, spoke on behalf of his daughter, Maura, a victim of gun violence. Maura, an attendee of Dekalb Public Schools, was pursuing her degree at Florida State when, on Nov. 2nd 2018, she was 1 of 6 women shot outside of a yoga studio. 

Protesters dressed in red; the signature color of Moms Demand Action.

“Maura’s Voice” was the foundation Binkley and his wife started in their daughter’s honor in order to prevent other acts of gun violence. 

“Public interest over special interest. [Gun violence] should not be cast as a matter of left or right, blue or red, it is rather one of red white and blue,” Binkley said.

Members of the crowd and rally organizers chanted “enough” in joint response to various calls for gun reform before the rally concluded to the Indigo Girl’s performance.