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Clooneys, Spielbergs donate $660,000 to student gun control rally

Winfrey, Clooneys and Spielbergs are donating to March For Our Lives protest in Washington organised by students

Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg said on Tuesday they would each donate US$500,000 (S$660,000) to the March For Our Lives rally in Washington in support of gun control following last week's shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead.

Clooney and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, were the first to make the financial pledge and also said they will march alongside the students on March 24.

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where a 19-year-old former student is accused of going on a rampage with a semi-automatic AR-15-style assault rifle on Feb 14, are assisting in planning the march.

The teenagers have vowed to make the tragedy a turning point in America's deadlocked debate on gun control.

"Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we are donating US$500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children's lives depend on it," Clooney said in a statement.

"We want to express extreme gratitude for the amazing donation that George Clooney and his family have made," tweeted the Never Again account representing survivors of the Florida shooting.

"We are overwhelmed with the support, and we can't wait to march."

MATCHED DONATION

Later on Tuesday, Spielberg and his wife and Winfrey said they would match the Clooneys' donation.

"George and Amal, I couldn't agree with you more. I am joining forces with you and will match your US$500,000 donation to March For Our Lives.

"These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we've had ENOUGH and our voices will be heard," Winfrey tweeted.

Spielberg and his actress-wife Kate Capshaw, in a statement, said: "The young students in Florida and now across the country are already demonstrating their leadership with a confidence and maturity that belies their ages."

It was not clear whether they and Winfrey would attend the march.

Film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife Marilyn also said they would match the US$500,000 donation and march in Washington.

Other celebrities have voiced their support for the students' efforts on social media, including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Cher.

The March For Our Lives event is one of many rallies being organised by students across the country in support of stronger gun laws, challenging politicians they say have failed to protect them.

Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and remains one of the nation's more divisive issues.

The US Congress is deadlocked on the gun debate, accomplishing nothing even after last October's killing of 58 people by a gunman in Las Vegas who had amassed 47 firearms to commit the worst mass shooting in recent US history.

The White House said President Donald Trump is supportive of efforts to improve background checks for gun purchases, but many want far more deep-seated reforms.

The students organising the March 24 rally say they are fed up "waiting for someone else" to take action to stop the US epidemic of mass school shootings, and are demanding a "comprehensive and effective Bill" in Congress to address gun violence.

"Politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns," the mission statement says. "Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear.

"Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard." - REUTERS, AFP

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