The Powerful Reason Thousands Of Shoes Were Placed Outside The U.S. Capitol

There were 7,000 pairs in total.

A powerful symbol appeared outside the United States Capitol building on Tuesday. Global advocacy group Avaaz placed 7,000 pairs of shoes on the Capitol lawn, reportedly covering more than 10,000 square feet. The footwear was meant to represent the estimated 7,000 American children who have been killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.

The number comes from a 2017 report citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that nearly 1,300 U.S. children die each year from gunshot wounds. The purpose of the demonstration was to demand Congress take action on gun reform in order to prevent further deaths.

Families of victims were in attendance to place their loved ones' shoes on the lawn, including Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed in the Columbine shooting at age 15. He placed one pair of Daniel's shoes on the lawn, and wore the pair his son was wearing the day he died.

"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," Mauser said, according to a press release.

Some of the shoes were donated by people around the country, including some celebrities such as Bette Midler, Alyssa Milano, and Chelsea Handler. A banner at the site featured the hashtag #NotOneMore.

"Shoes are individual. They're so personal. There are ballet slippers here and roller skates. These are kids," Nell Greenberg, the campaign director for Avaaz, told CNN of the meaning behind the event.

The demonstration came just a day before a planned National School Walkout on Wednesday, in which students in the United States and even around the world will leave their classrooms to protest gun violence and mark one month since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. On March 24, student survivors of the shooting will lead the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.

Cover image: SFC /

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