Newsbeat

US gun reform: Stories behind the movement's protest art

Protest Posters Image copyright AMPLIFIER/ KOY SUNTICHOTINUN/ KATE DECICCIO

On 24 March thousands of people will join the March For Our Lives protest in Washington in response to the recent Florida school shooting.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been leading calls for gun reform since the shooting, in which 17 people lost their lives.

Donald Trump has told US politicians he wants stronger gun control laws - a bill "really strong on background checks", while he's also suggested training school staff to use firearms.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) says people who want gun control are "exploiting" the Florida shooting.

Mr Trump says both main US political parties are "petrified" of the NRA.

As the debate rages on, protesters will march towards the White House with posters and placards - and some of those signs will have been produced by Amplifier, an organisation which makes art to promote activist movements.

It has commissioned eight artists to create free downloadable posters for the gun reform protest.

Newsbeat spoke to four of them about the inspiration for their posters.

Chanelle Librada Reyes, 23, New York

Image copyright AMPLIFIER/@librada_shoot

Chanelle was one of hundreds of students to submit a poster she designed to Amplifier, hoping it would be published.

The competition was open to 13 to 24-year-olds in order to emphasise the leading role that student activists have taken in the gun reform debate.

"I wanted to display how many times 'never again' has been said to calm the masses with no action being taken," she told Newsbeat.

"It has become a vicious cycle that we all know too well. The first part is shock and terror with some media coverage.

"Then America moves on, forgetting that the people affected have to live with the tragedy forever."

The Parkland, Florida attack is the worst school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Chanelle went on to say: "But this time is different. Parkland students have taken 'never again' and made it something so powerful that it's vibrating all of America.

Kate DeCiccio, 37, Oakland. Collaborating with DeJanae Gilliam, 21, San Francisco

Image copyright AMPLIFIER/@k8deciccio

DeJanae Gilliam was Kate's student when she was a high school art teacher.

"Two years ago DeJanae was shot while at college and she's been fighting to walk ever since," Kate told us.

"Amplifier called me to ask if I knew young artists who might be a good fit. I shared DeJanae's story and proposed we work together to create a poster featuring her story," she said.

They wanted the artwork to make the consequences of gun violence more relatable.

"We decided to have her gaze forward so viewers have to look her in the eyes and feel that connection. To create the bright textures that make the poster glow, she painted paper and we scanned it into the computer," she said.

The finished poster, which she posted on Instagram, reads: "Help me save lives. Gun violence almost took mine."

"It was most important to DeJanae that the poster was a call to action coming from a person who was 2cm away from not being alive."

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Micah Bazant, 44, Berkeley, California

Image copyright AFP

Artist Micah Bazant created his poster in collaboration with an organisation called Forward Together, which works to give rights and resources to marginalised families.

His work focuses on Black Lives Matter, a group protesting against police brutality whose calls for gun reform he says have been ignored.

"Black youth in Ferguson, Chicago, Baltimore, and across the US have been protesting for the same things as the young people in Florida.

"But black youth aren't seen as innocent victims the way the Parkland students have been, and they haven't received the same kind of support."

Marjory Stoneman survivor David Hogg said during a live-streamed interview with his classmates: "If this happened in a place of lower socio-economic status, or a black community, no matter how well those people spoke, I don't think the media would cover it the same."

"It's been beautiful to see some of the Florida youth recognising their privilege," Micah said.

He lives in an area of the US that prohibited weapons being carried in public in the 1960s in response to the Black Panther Party, who conducted armed patrols in Oakland neighbourhoods where police brutality was rife.

"As a white artist, it's my responsibility to try to work in solidarity with black liberation movements, who have been fighting gun violence for generations," he said.

"I hope this poster will help more people make the connections between gun violence, white supremacy and police violence."

Raychelle Duazo, 26, Seattle, Washington

Image copyright AMPLIFIER/ @bombchelle

Raychelle uses floral imagery in a lot of her work and despite the theme of these protest posters, flowers still make an appearance.

"It was tough to illustrate something [a gun] that represented so much violence and aggression.

"Contrasting it with the warm colours and these delicate, but very resilient poppies represented the end of violence into survival," Raychelle told us.

"Historically, poppies are worn in remembrance of those who died in war, and this epidemic of mass shootings has become such a national (and controversial) issue that it carries as much emotional weight," she said.

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