Activists Left 7,000 Pairs of Shoes Outside the Capitol to Beg Congress to Confront Gun Violence

People left 7,000 pairs of shoes on the lawn of the US Capitol on March 13 to represent the number of children’s lives lost to gun violence since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. The powerful protest was organized by online global activist network Avaaz and attempts to demand Congress confront gun violence. It’s a visual protest, no posters necessary, with a clear message: #NotOneMore. All of the shoes were donated, and some of them belonged to actual victims, BuzzFeed News reports.

A man named Tom Mauser, who lost his son Daniel in 1999’s Columbine shooting, is quoted in Avaaz’s press release reflecting on his involvement in the protest. “I’ll be traveling to DC literally wearing my son Daniel’s shoes, the ones he wore the day he died at Columbine,” he said. “I think this kind of event with shoes offers a very powerful metaphor both for how we miss the victims who once filled those shoes and also for how we see ourselves wanting to walk in their place, seeking change, so that others don’t have to walk this painful journey.”

Avaaz says shoes have also been donated by celebrities, including Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Alyssa Milano, Chelsea Handler, Vanessa Bayer, Brett Davern, Hayley Mills, Colm Meaney, Brenda Meaney, and Harry Clarke. Seeing the thousands of shoes, from sparkly red flats with bows to tied-up sneakers with green laces, is an incredibly powerful visual that will hit you straight in the gut. Once the display is over, the shoes will be donated to homeless shelters across the US.

This is just one of several nods to Congress in the days following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, that left 17 dead. A national walkout is scheduled for March 14, and the first March For Our Lives marches will take place in cities all over the world on March 24. Some companies have already ended sales of assault rifles.

Take a look at some of the most powerful photos of the shoe-covered lawn ahead.

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