Thousands rally in downtown Fort Lauderdale seeking urgent action be taken on gun-control legislation. Meanwhile, more sit-ins and walkouts were announced for March and April to protest gun laws and violence in US schools.

Demonstrators hold a sign that against a gun show in Hollywood, Florida, during a protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 17, 2018.
Demonstrators hold a sign that against a gun show in Hollywood, Florida, during a protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 17, 2018. (AP)

Thousands of angry students, parents, teachers and neighbours of a Florida high school where 17 people were killed demanded on Saturday that immediate action be taken on gun-control legislation, insisting they would not relent until their demands were met.

The rally in downtown Fort Lauderdale gave a political outlet to the growing feelings of rage and mourning sparked by the carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

The demonstrations came a day after FBI, the top US law enforcement agency, admitted it had received a chilling warning in January from a tipster who said the 19-year-old attacker, Nikolas Cruz, could be planning a mass murder, but that agents failed to follow up.

"Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again," Delaney Tarr, a student at the school, told the crowd swamping the steps and courtyard at the federal courthouse.

TRT World's Arabella Munro has more.

"Don't Let My Friends Die"

The crowd chanted: "Vote them out!" and held signs calling for action. Some read: "#Never Again," ''#Do something now" and "Don't Let My Friends Die."

Student Emma Gonzalez told the crowd politicians should stop taking donations from the National Rifle Association. "Shame on you," she yelled, and the crowd repeated her.

"A lot of people are saying that these kids are activists, these kids need to be politicians," she later told a reporter. 

"But a lot of us are just other students who figured there's strength in numbers. And we want to be sure that we end up having our message sent across. And then we can get back to our normal everyday lives, you know."

Walkout on March 14

Meanwhile, organisers behind the Women's March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute walkout on March 14 to "protest Congress' inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organisation for public schools, meanwhile, announced a "national day of action" on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two students opened fire on their classmates, killing 12 students and one teacher.

The organisation is encouraging teachers and students to organise sit-ins, walkouts, marches and any other events to protest gun violence in schools.

"The politicians sit on their hands as our children and their teachers are murdered in their schools," Diane Ravitch, the group's president, and Carol Burris, its executive director, said in a post online.

The protest plans circulated widely on social media on Saturday, signaling that the outcry for new gun legislation may not fade away as it has after other recent mass shootings. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies