WASHINGTON — Some of the nation’s youngest lawmakers joined forces on Wednesday to inspire young voters and rally for gun reform. The event, “On the Frontlines of Democracy: Young and Fed Up,” included passionate speeches from Reps. Maxwell Frost, Justin Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Summer Lee and Greg Casar.
Jones, who has recently captured national attention due to being expelled from and then eventually reinstated to the Tennessee House of Representatives, created a spirited atmosphere with his chant, “Fired up! Fed up!” The crowd joined Jones, chanting and cheering while he spoke.
Youth from across the country attended, including 17-year-olds Isabella Troy and Elizabeth Foster from South Carolina. They were at the Capitol protesting against book bans and found out about the rally on Instagram.
“Of course we were going to come because who hasn’t been following what’s been happening in Tennessee?” Troy said. “Young and fed up. We play a big role in that and are trying to figure out what all we can do to push for sensible legislation on education, guns, health care, anything like that.”
Speaking to the young crowd, Ocasio-Cortez encouraged people to get involved in politics, even if that means running in a deep red state.
“Make them sweat. Make them think about it. Make them expend the resources. Make them slowly but surely retreat. They need to know that our lives are not up for their negotiation,” she said.
While much of the rally’s rhetoric espoused hope, lawmakers also spoke candidly about the despair people feel.
When asked about the new bill Gov. DeSantis recently signed into law that allows people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, Maxwell said, “There’s a reason why he signed it in the dead of night. There’s a reason why he signed the six-week abortion ban behind closed doors. Because he understands that people are not for that policy.”
“This governor is more interested in running for president,” Maxwell continued. “And unfortunately, the people of Florida are collateral damage.”
Other organizations present at the event included the NAACP, Community Justice Action Fund and Sunrise.