'We may get a million people here today.'
Saturday's March for Our Lives was expected to draw around 500,000 people to the nation's capital to protest against gun violence and demand stronger gun laws following last month's massacre in Parkland, Florida.
But according to the earliest estimates, crowd size far exceeded expectations, with about 800,000 people turning out for the event. One veteran D.C. journalist said he's "never seen crowds" like the one he saw Saturday.
Trump's inauguration in January 2017 brought an estimated 250,000 people to Washington, D.C. — meaning that the crowd size at Saturday's student-led event was more than three times that of the inaugural celebration.
The highly anticipated event kicked off at noon near the National Mall. The next three hours featured emotional testimony and powerful calls to action from young survivors of gun violence, including many students who survived the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
"This one is really about guns," remarked MSNBC host Chris Matthews. "These kids are concerned about safety and guns, and it's a very pure ... demonstration of numbers."
"We may get a million people here today," Matthews said. "I've never seen crowds pouring out of Union Station like I saw an hour ago."
Photos and video from the student-led event show a sea of people stretching for blocks along Pennsylvania Ave., just down the street from the White House.
Many participants carried signs with slogans such as "Not One More," "We Are the Change," and "Enough."
Others carried photographs of loved ones who they had lost to the scourge of gun violence that kills more than 30,000 Americans annually.
Unbelievable crowd on Penn Ave as seen from the top of the @Newseum #MarchForOurLives #MarchForOurLivesdc #ParklandStudents pic.twitter.com/tDmNnExiMV
— Jonathan Thompson (@JTfromDC) March 24, 2018
While D.C. drew the largest crowds, activists also packed the streets in cities like Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, and New York.
In total, at least 843 marches took place throughout the U.S. and around the world.
One person who wasn't in attendance Saturday was Trump. He spent the day hiding at Mar-a-Lago, as students took over the streets of D.C. in numbers that dwarfed the size of the crowd at his inauguration — a metaphor for what's in store when the teen activists reach voting age.