Students hold anti-gun violence 'lie-in' demonstration outside White House
WASHINGTON - A large group of mostly students from the D.C. region gathered outside of the White House Monday for a "lie-in" demonstration in response to last week's shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.
Originally intended to include just 17 students - one to represent each person killed during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida - the demonstration grew to include over one hundred.
The demonstrators gathered at around noon in front of the White House holding signs and addressing the crowd. Then dozens of students spread out on the ground where they remained motionless for several minutes.
The two young women who organized the demonstration, Whitney Bowen and Eleanor Nuechterlein, said word of the event spread quickly on social media. They said they were inspired by the shooting survivors in Parkland who have been so outspoken about changing gun laws in America.
"We're not trying to make this a political debate between Republicans and Democrats," said Nuechterlein when she spoke with FOX 5 the weekend before the demonstration. "We're really just trying to stay neutral and say that something needs to be done."
"You never think that it's going to be your school or your friends or your family and last week over a dozen kids went to school for last time," Bowen told FOX 5 prior to the event. "And that's heartbreaking. And we feel horrible for those families, but we don't want to wait for it to be our school or for it to be our area."
Officials say 17 people were killed and more were injured during the shooting on February 14 – Valentine's Day. 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was arrested and faces charges in connection with the killings. The FBI revealed Friday that it did not follow proper protocol after admitting they received a tip last month that Cruz had a gun, wanted to "kill people" and had the "potential of him conducting a school shooting."