LOS ANGELES, California — The celebrities who spoke at March for Our Lives rallies around the country on Saturday knew this day belonged to the survivors of mass shootings, not them. But if they could help encourage a few more people to join the thousands who came out to support action on gun violence, it didn’t hurt.
Comedian Amy Schumer was one of the most rousing speakers at the march that ended in Downtown Los Angeles’ Grand Park Saturday afternoon. Despite her powerful Democratic cousin, Schumer was never particularly politically active until the summer of 2015 when a gunman opened fire during a screening of her film Trainwreck in Lafayette, Louisiana, leaving two women dead. Since then, she has used her voice and her comedy to speak out against guns.
“Thank you students and everyone here for standing up and saying, ‘no more,’” Schumer told the L.A. crowd, who were holding signs with slogans such as, “You can’t choose when to be pro-life” and “Teachers need funding, not guns.”
“Because we know it’s hard and we know they will twist our words and laugh at us and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie,” Schumer said of the NRA and gun rights activists. “How do they sleep at night? You are killing children.”
She acknowledged that she and others would be labeled “Hollywood liberals” by the right-wing for even appearing at the march, “as if there’s something in it for us.” And indeed Fox & Friends did just that Saturday morning.
“Well, what’s in it for us is knowing we’re doing our part to keep our children alive,” Schumer said, adding that she expects to “sell half as many tickets” to her stand-up shows because she’s “standing up for what’s right.”
“You see that, politicians?” she asked. “You can make a little less money and be able to look at yourself in the mirror with no blood on your hands.”
Before Schumer took the stage, Los Angeles mayor—and potential 2020 presidential candidate—Eric Garcetti began the event by leading the crowd in a chant of “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose Lives? Our Lives! Whose nation? Our nation!” He also shared a message for Donald Trump: “Get with the program Mr. President, or get the hell out of the way.”
In Washington, D.C., an emotional Jennifer Hudson, who has lost multiple family members to gun violence, sang Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” surrounded by a gospel choir. “We all came here for change today, right?” she asked the massive crowd. “We’ve all lost somebody and I’m sure a long time ago you never thought you’d be standing here today. We all got a story, we all got a purpose.”
Several other stars kept a lower profile at the marches, but still posted messages of support on Twitter and Instagram. “So ready to March today!” Kim Kardashian tweeted early Saturday morning. “Landed in DC w North & Kanye. We stand in solidarity with the survivors of gun violence & students who are calling for action on common sense gun safety laws at #MarchForOurLives around the country.”
Actor Nick Offerman tweeted out a photo of his Parks and Recreation-inspired T-shirt for the event:
George and Amal Clooney, who were among the first celebrities to donate to the Parkland students’ cause, were also spotted in the crowd in D.C. Oprah Winfrey subsequently matched their $500,000 donation.
Samantha Bee, meanwhile, brought her show’s bus to Washington to give activists a safe place to make signs and charge their phones. As she told The Daily Beast by phone this week, “We’re just going to be supportive, that’s it. I’m not speaking. I’m just a regular person going to the march. We are just trying to be supportive of people who are doing more than we ever could.”
But perhaps most moving of all was Paul McCartney, who did not make a speech or perform at the march in New York City, but instead simply showed up and held a sign in support.
Speaking to CNN not too far away from the spot where John Lennon was shot to death close to 40 years ago, McCartney said, “One of my best friends was killed in gun violence right around here, so it’s important to me.”