On June 12th, 2016, 49 people, many of whom were LGBTQ people of color, were killed in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Today, two years later, protesters around the country are staging “die-ins” to remember these victims and call for gun control reform.
Here’s what you need to know about National Die-In Day.
The protests began this morning at 10:30 local times, and starting at noon, protesters lay “dead” for 12 minutes — a second for every shooting that has occurred since Pulse (700). According to Vox, Amanda Fugleberg, the 18-year-old behind the national protest in Washington, D.C., attained the number from the Gun Violence Archive. Other gun control activists, including Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, caught wind of Fugleberg’s efforts and worked to create their own die-ins from Chicago to Houston.
A die-in was even held outside President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where the President often spends his weekends. One 15-year-old Palm Beach student, identified only as Michael, told the Miami Herald he believes there is absolutely a connection between anti-LGBTQ sentiments and gun violence.
During the protest in D.C., one Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, Tyra Hemans, addressed law-makers specifically.
Die-ins are not a new form of protest. Robert Widell, Associate Professor of History at the University of Rhode Island, told the BBC that they date back to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Since then, they have often been used as a visually striking form of protest, with Black Lives Matter activists staging them to protest police brutality. Recently, gun control activists have organized die-ins, too. In May, Hogg arranged die-ins at Publix, and his efforts convinced the chain to stop donating to an anti-gun control candidate for governor.
As National Die-In Day continues, our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by gun violence. We’re proud to see student activists continue to raise their voices, and we stand with all those participating in the fight to end these senseless tragedies.