Pugh says buses to D.C. gun control rally have been privately funded

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Mayor Catherine Pugh and Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa address hundreds of students at the walkout.

Buses that will take Baltimore students to the March For Our Lives, a March 24 protest at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. led by students demanding stricter gun laws, have been privately funded, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced today at her weekly press conference.

“All the monies have been raised privately—a little over 100 [thousand], something like that,” Pugh said.

When Pugh first announced the pledge to bus students to the protest, meeting with kids from across the city who staged a walkout during the school day, she said she would seek private donations, but would look into closing any shortfalls by using public funds.

The $100,000 is expected to be enough to rent 60 buses for 3,000 students. James Bentley, a spokesperson with Pugh’s office, said the donations are going to the Baltimore City Foundation*, but he said he could not disclose the names of donors and that some wish to remain anonymous.

“The donations continue to come in as this issue has been well-publicized,” he told Baltimore Fishbowl.

Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham invited Pugh on her show to criticize the mayor for using taxpayer funds to assist a student protest, and other critics have parroted similar logic.

On Wednesday, Pugh made clear that the inspiration for providing buses was to reach students who would like to participate in the protest but can’t otherwise afford to get to Washington.

“Those who want to get on the bus can get on the bus. Those who don’t want to get on the bus don’t have to get on this bus,” she said. “This money has been given specifically for children who need to get to D.C. and want to get to D.C. and want to be with others.”

Buses will be boarding at 8:30 a.m. on March 24 from eight different locations across the city and will board to head back to Baltimore at 3 p.m. Tickets are available through EventBrite and a Facebook event page set up by the mayor’s office.

Students across the country are currently participating in a national walkout to demand stricter gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. Local media reports and posts on social media have shown Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Dulaney High School in Timonium, Carver Vocational-Technical School in Towson, Franklin High School in Reisterstown, Annapolis High School and Severna Park High School are just some of the schools to participate. In Harford County, where protests were reportedly banned, students walked out at Havre de Grace High School, C. Milton Wright High School and Aberdeen High School.

*Correction: An earlier version of this report said the funds for buses were going to the Baltimore Community Foundation. They are going to the Baltimore City Foundation. Baltimore Fishbowl regrets the error.

Brandon Weigel

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