(DENVER) — Thousands of women participate in a sit-in at the Colorado state Capitol Monday, calling on Gov. Jared Polis to sign an executive order to ban guns and implement a system to buy them back.
The Here 4 the Kids movement, which advocates to end gun violence, is behind the event. Organizers said roughly 2,000 people were among the first to gather. They are also calling on white women specifically, to participate in the demonstration.
Tina Strawn, the movement’s cofounder, told ABC News that Black people have always been on the frontlines for social justice.
“So, it’s time for white women to show up. It’s time for white women to put their bodies, their privilege and their power on the line to save our kids,” she said. “And it is something that they are recognizing that they need to be doing. That’s why they’re showing up.”
On the importance of the sit-in, cofounder Saira Rao said: “We have lost our imagination to dream bigger and envision a life where our kids are safe wherever they go. This is not a way to live. It is not a way to live. Bulletproof backpacks [are] not normal, and we’ve gotten used to this as if it’s normal.”
“It’s got to stop, and nothing has worked since … the 24 years since Columbine,” she said, referring to the 1999 high school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, which left 15 dead.
Organizers said the mood of the sit-in is solemn, and the names of people who have died from gun violence since the start of the Here 4 the Kids organization in April are read at the beginning of each hour.
Actress and director Lake Bell is one of the thousands of women participating in the sit-in.
She told ABC News, “This is the thing to do — which is to show up, to make the effort, to participate in the action of really advocating and demanding for change.”
Bell, who is a mother of two, said, “I don’t think there is a child in America that goes to school that doesn’t live with anxiety and fear around the idea of an active shooter, or a lockdown scenario. They are not blind to that.”
“My daughter was very nervous of my coming here,” she continued, noting how common guns are. “So, I think it affects the mental wellness and the mental health of our children.”
Other celebrities, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Niecy Nash and Amanda Seales, also voiced their support for the movement.
In response to the sit-in, the governor’s office released a statement Monday, writing that Polis supports the right to bear arms and is also concerned “about improving public safety including reducing gun violence.”
The statement added that his “staff has met with the organizers and have expressed concerns that the requests being made are either unconstitutional or require legislative action. The Governor takes the weighty responsibility of executive action and the trust Coloradans placed in him to govern responsibly seriously, and will not issue an unconstitutional order that will be struck down in court simply to make a public relations statement — he will continue to focus on real solutions to help make Colorado one of the 10 safest states.”
The organizers said they plan to continue the sit-in until an executive order is signed, and they expressed optimism that it will be.
“We have to believe that any decent human being with the power to end children’s pain and suffering will absolutely choose their right to live over the right to bear arms,” Rao said. “We believe [Polis] will do it because what decent human being wouldn’t do it?”
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