A group of gun violence prevention advocates happend to be visiting Washington, D.C. the morning of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting. They were attending a training session at the New Organizing Institute (NOI) when news of the mass shooting began streaming in. At about 1:30PM EST the group decided they would organize a vigil in front of the White House.
They began connecting with progressive organizations such as CREDO, MoveOn, and Moms Rising to encourage others to join them in urging President Obama to do something about gun violence in this country. At around 4:30PM EST, shortly after the President's emotional address on the shooting, the group had assembled approximately 100 people in front of the White House.
Andy Pelosi (no relation to the former Speaker of the House) was one of the organizers-in-training. He lives about 20 minutes from Newtown and has two elementary school-age daughters. Standing in front of the White House he told reporters, "We're always told, 'Just wait, just wait, tomorrow's the day to talk about it'." Apparently the White House was listening. John Carson, the White House Director of the Office of Public Engagement, came out to talk with attendees about their concerns and requests.
Also in attendence were Barbara Elsas, a pre-school teacher, and Linda Finkel-Talvadkar, a retired principal. Since July 30, a few days after the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theather, they've spent every Monday morning walking up and down Pennsylvania Avenue holding signs and talking to visitors about gun violence. We were also pleased to learn that they find Mother Jones' timeline of mass shootings useful. "We set this timeline out on the sidewalk and people from all over the world and all over the United States stop and look at that timeline," Finkel-Talvadkar said.
Nationwide action continues today, as organizations such as MoveOn, are calling for candlelight vigils to end gun violence. Evan Sutton of NOI told Mother Jones, "Expect more direct action in the next couple of days. On Capitol Hill and the D.C. NRA offices."
Here's a summary of our mass shooting reporting: