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Youth Activists Camped Overnight to Lobby Legislators

*VPM Intern Patrick Larsen reported this story.

A group of young gun control advocates stayed in the offices of Democratic Delegates Chris Hurst and Dan Helmer last night before speaking to lawmakers on Lobby Day.

The college and high school students said they had to for their own safety, given the crowds of armed pro-gun advocates that showed up.

Hampton University student and Black Lives Matter activist Nupol Kiazolu was at the deadly 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Seeing these armed militias here, you know… getting a little bit of flashbacks from Charlottesville, and I’m sure a lot of the people from Charlottesville are here today," Kiazolu said.

She and her fellow activist, Michael McCabe of March for Our Lives Virginia, said the armed protesters are keeping people from speaking out for gun control.

"We have 13 people this year," McCabe said, explaining that hundreds came for Lobby Day last year.

While McCabe was inspired by events like the Parkland mass casualty attack, it was a tragedy close to home that set Kiazolu on her path: She lost her father to gun violence when she was 8 years old. “It definitely changed our lives forever, but I channeled this pain into something positive," she said.

She said that people of color are often left out of gun violence conversations, even though they’re disproportionately affected.

She hopes to give those people a voice in the conversation.

*David Streever contributed to this report.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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