PORTLAND, Maine — People gathered on the steps of Portland's City Hall Thursday night to express their concern and dismay over the spell of mass shootings that occurred last week.
Demonstrators particularly focused on the shooting in El Paso, Texas, wherein a gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 more inside of a Walmart. Police found a manifesto that the shooter is believed to have written, filled with racist and anti-immigrant sentiments.
"What we saw in El Paso was a man who, like many others, had written a manifesto about why he had murdered all these people in Walmart, and it was grounded in white supremacist ideology," said Russell.
Demonstrators hope that their actions attract the attention of Maine lawmakers, who then in turn bring their concerns to Washington.
"Not only are we not addressing the mass shooting problem writ large, but we are also not addressing domestic terrorism. What we want to do is see our delegation from Maine actually stand up against domestic terrorism, specifically rooted in white supremacy," Russell said.
Jonathan Treacy, the former deputy director of Anti Terrorism and Homeland Defense, addressed the crowd. He said it's time for the government to focus on tracing and tracking domestic terrorism.
"I think there is a way that we can talk through it and develop a system of protection that is actually effective. Doing nothing is not the answer," Treacy said.
Although the task of reducing gun violence is daunting, demonstrators say they felt heartened by the response and overwhelming support from the community.
"If there is any light to come out of something so tragic, it's that so many people care about this issue, want to fight back against what's happening in this country -- the scourge of gun violence, the scourge of mass shootings -- and come together, work together, as a community, as Americans, as patriots. So we take some heart in that," said Geoff Bickford, the executive director of Maine Gun Safety Coalition.
Protest organizers urged people to call Maine lawmakers and demand that they support gun safety legislation, like universal background checks.