As thousands of people in cities across the nation took to the streets Saturday to oppose gun violence, hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Yakima demanding stricter gun laws in what activists are calling an unprecedented act of political solidarity.

The local march — one of several demonstrations under an umbrella event called “March for Our Lives” — saw some 300 students, parents, educators and activists gather in the Millennium Plaza for a rally before marching in a roughly five-block square around the downtown area.

A student who spoke at the rally, Kathryn Conley, said she helped coordinate the march because conversations about gun violence need to continue in order to effect change.

“Every time there’s a big conflict or a school shooting there’s this big backlash but it always seems to die down,” she said. “We need to keep having these conversations because this cycle is unacceptable and it needs to stop.”

The nationwide marches come a month after a gunman killed 17 people in a Florida high school.

In her speech to the crowd, Conley, a junior at Davis High School, addressed the dozens of people killed in school shootings over the last two decades.

“These death tolls aren’t just numbers, they represent human lives,” she said. “They represent teachers who dedicated countless hours to ensuring the future of our nation and our world; they represent students who are now buried underground instead of buried in assignments.”

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