Members of the D.C. chapter of Gays Against Guns, Code Pink and WERK for Peace were dancing to music as they marched around the Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn House Office Buildings on Independence Avenue. They also staged “die-ins” on the steps of the Rayburn House Office Building and in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Three members of Gays Against Guns wearing white marched silently while holding posters that contained the names and pictures of victims of gun violence. These include Deeniquia Dodds, a black transgender woman who died in July after she was shot in the neck in Northeast Washington.
Congress returned from its summer recess on Tuesday.
Activists earlier in the day placed pink flyers from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence on the doors of lawmakers’ offices that note 4,500 people died from gun violence during the recess. People who were inside the Longworth House Office Building watched the protesters from windows as they marched on C Street, S.E.
“We’re out here to send a strong message to Congress: Welcome back, do your jobs,” Phil Attey, co-founder of the D.C. chapter of Gays Against Guns, told the Washington Blade.
Mandy Toomey of Moms Demand Action, a group that formed in response to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 students and six staffers dead, echoed Attey.
“It’s time to get to work,” Toomey told the Blade. “There’s so much to be done in the areas of gun violence prevention. We’re just seeing an increase every day.”
Protester: Rubio ‘spitting on the graves’ of Pulse victims
Tuesday’s protest took place nearly three months after a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
Firas Nasr of WERK for Peace began the protest with a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the massacre that is the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
Nasr told the Blade the Pulse nightclub shooting was “the biggest impetus” behind the protest, although he noted the movement for gun control included LGBT people before the June 12 massacre. Nasr added he and others who took part in Tuesday’s protest also support the Black Lives Matter movement and efforts to close loopholes “allow for people to get guns without background checks.”
“Orlando was the final straw for us to really come out and say this is wrong,” he said.
Attey specifically criticized U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who announced his re-election campaign after the Pulse nightclub massacre.
Rubio sparked outrage last month when he delivered the keynote address at an anti-LGBT conference that took place at an Orlando hotel two months after the massacre. The former Republican presidential candidate will face U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) in the general election.
Attey accused Rubio of “spitting on the graves of the 49 people who died at Pulse.”
“If the voters of Florida care about what happened at Pulse and they care about the safety of their kids, whether they’re LGBT or not, the choice in this election is clear,” Attey told the Blade. “You cannot vote for Marco Rubio. You have to vote for Patrick Murphy.”
The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, a political action committee that formed after the Pulse nightclub massacre, on Tuesday announced it has endorsed Hillary Clinton. The Democratic National Committee and LGBT activists are among those who have criticized Donald Trump’s response to the shooting that included a renewed call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.