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Updated 9:03 PM  |  March 24, 2018

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Thanks for following our coverage of the March for Our Lives

As the crowds leave the streets in Washington, and New York, and Boston, and Columbus, Ga., and Valparaiso, Ind., and Parkland, Fla., and other cities and towns across the country, our live coverage is concluding.

Thank you for following the March for Our Lives with us, and please continue to read our ongoing reporting. We’ll be updating our stories on the march in the District and companion marches around the world throughout the night.

Gun supporter baked cookies shaped like AR-15s

VALPARAISO, Ind.—Jack Pupillo, a 28-year-old traveling salesman, organized the counter-protest in his hometown in just ten days.

Before Saturday, Pupillo had never been to a protest. But when he noticed there would be a March for Our Lives rally in his backyard, “I wanted our side to be represented.”

He owns 10 guns and sometimes carries one when he travels to Chicago, an hour away, to make him feel safe. He says he’s not against background checks, but banning assault weapons is “a step too far.”

His 26-year-old fiancée Carly McCall baked vanilla cookies for the counter-protest with dark brown icing in the shape of AR-15 rifles.

Carly McCall made AR-15 cookies. (Victoria St. Martin)

Pupillo said both sides have a lot in common: they want to keep people safe and they don’t want mass shootings. “We all have the same goals in mind,” he said. “We want to keep schools safe, and we can do that without trampling on everybody’s rights.”

He mentioned that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just enacted a policy asking students to carry clear backpacks, and students objected, saying the new measure goes against their Fourth Amendment rights.

“That’s what is really rich about this whole conversation,” he said, before he left his first protest. “The whole time they’re talking about restricting the rights of every American, including themselves. And then they’re complaining about their individual rights being restricted in another way.”

Brother of slain Newtown teacher: ‘Enough is enough’

Speakers at the rally included three students from Newtown, Conn.

Matthew Soto recalled that his sister Victoria, a teacher, went to Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, planning to build gingerbread houses with her first-grade students. “But that was cut short,” he said. A gunman entered the school, killing 26 people, including his sister, 27 years old. And five years later, he said, little has changed.

“Too many times has gunfire been ringing through the hallways of schools across this country,” said Soto, who was 15 when his sister was killed. “Too many schools, too many churches, too many movie theaters, too many neighborhoods, too many homes. Enough is enough.”

Soto was followed by two other students, Tommy Murray and Jackson Mittleman, now juniors at Newtown High School.

Murray was a sixth-grader and was neighbors with the gunman, Adam Lanza, 20, who also killed his mother, Nancy, and himself.

“It was one of the worst days in my life,” he said. Now, “The entire Parkland community is shattered the way our town was shattered after the massacre.”

Mittleman remembered being on lockdown for five hours. He remembered the rallies, the lobbying — and how five years later, little has changed. “The Sandy Hook shooting should have been the last one in our nation,” he said.

Despite their frustration with lawmakers who have declined to ban assault weapons or require universal background checks for gun buyers as they had previously lobbied for, the trio said they feel a new sense of hope from the activism spurred by the students from Parkland, Fla.

“We are inspired by your fight for change,” Soto said. “We can’t change the past, but we can fight to change and build a better future.”

More than 200 T-shirts sold by student — at $25 to $30 each
One of Camryn Leibowitz’s two styles of protest T-shirt. (Erin Logan)

When people buy protest paraphernalia, Camryn Leibowitz says, they tend to wear it to one of two places: bed or other protests.

About two weeks ago, Leibowitz had an idea: “What if someone made T-shirts cute enough to wear outside, to a place like the mall or to parties … that would get the message of the march beyond those who attended?”

Leibowitz, a 19-year-old Georgetown sophomore, worked with seven friends to sell more than 200 shirts on Saturday at $25 to $30 apiece. They plan to donate all the proceeds to the March for Our Lives Action Fund.

Her two styles of T-shirt both list school shootings since Sandy Hook, including the one in Southern Maryland last week. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” one of the shirts says.

Leibowitz said she is very pessimistic that the government will enact gun-control policies, but she thinks American attitudes might shift — and her “trendy” T-shirt business, which she hopes to expand, could be part of that.

“By changing gun culture, laws could one day change,” she said.

Signs piling up at the Sculpture Garden

As the March for Our Lives began winding down Saturday afternoon, 15-year-old Mali Abel was one of the dozens of people who left her sign on the fence surrounding the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.

The green metal fence became a place for march participants to leave their final mark before heading home.

Abel and her mother, Sandra Finkelstein, reached the main stage area at 11 a.m. after driving from Rye, N.Y., the previous day. Her poster, inspired by other students, read, “I want to leave high school in a cap and gown, not a body bag.”

She said adults have failed children. “Kids are becoming the voices.”

Finkelstein participated in the Women’s March in Washington last year with her sister. This time, she marched with her daughter. “Today felt valid and necessary,” she said.

Not far away from Abel’s sign, 12-year-old Lily Hausler and her family, who flew from Bend, Ore., contributed five posters to the pile.

Hausler said she hears politicians talk plenty about building a wall along the Mexican border but not enough about keeping students such as her safe.

Next, she plans to write a letter to her congressman demanding change. She said she intends to carry on the spirit of activism she learned from the speakers. “I just want to encourage those in charge to fix this,” she said.

Live coverage: March for Our Lives
Thousands pack Pennsylvania Avenue as seen from the sixth floor of the Newseum on Saturday in Washington. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather in the nation’s capital Saturday for the March for Our Lives, an anti-gun-violence rally organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.