RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — While tens of thousands of pro-gun advocates rallied near the Virginia State Capital during Lobby Day, there were several others advocating for gun-control measures who went through great lengths to make sure their voices were heard.
Despite the annual Martin Luther King Day Vigil and Day of Advocacy getting cancelled due to “credible threats,” young members of the March for Our Lives movement still wanted to make the trip to Richmond.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the cancellation of the annual Martin Luther King Day Vigil and Day of Advocacy. We have chosen to cancel the event due to the ongoing, credible threats to public safety that have been promoted and encouraged by gun extremists,” Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Virginia State Director Lori Haas said in a statement.
The students reached out to state delegates, who quickly offered their offices as a place to stay overnight.
“I had like a blanket and a jacket,” said March for Our Lives member Eve Levenson. “It was fine but we couldn’t bring in any air mattresses or anything like that because we weren’t supposed to be here.”
The group, made up of Levenson and at least a dozen other college students, found a safe place to stay the night: the offices of two Democratic lawmakers.
“Well to be honest, I have discouraged people from participating today but they were going to come anyway and it was compelling for them to have an opportunity to have their voices heard and to do so in a way that was safe,” Del. Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax) said.
After getting a Facebook message, Delegates Chris L. Hurst (D-Montgomery) and Helmer, offered their offices to the students.
The group told 8News that with much of the attention going to the pro-gun rally, they wanted to ensure they would be heard by lawmakers on Lobby Day.
“We didn’t want to let them win and we wanted to make sure we still had a voice,” said Levenson.
The group, with members from as far as Hampton and Washington D.C., said it all came together in about 36 hours.
“We aren’t scared of the people outside,” said Mollie Davis, another member of the March for Our Lives movement. “We still showed up because this is a hugely important problem to us so you can’t scare us away. We slept here so we’re still here in spite of everything.”