Paul McCartney hails John Lennon as stars join US anti-gun rallies | US news

Paul McCartney has remembered his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon at a march against gun violence in New York.

McCartney took part in the student-led March for Our Lives rally which started close to the Manhattan apartment building where Lennon was shot in 1980. “One of my best friends was killed in gun violence, right around here, so it’s important to me,” he told CNN.

Asked what he hoped could be accomplished by the event on Saturday, McCartney opened his jacket to show the slogan emblazoned on his black T-shirt: “We can end gun violence.”

Other celebrities who have personally been affected by gun violence also joined protests across the US. Jennifer Hudson, who performed The Times They Are a-Changin’ to cap a rally in Washington DC, alluded to the shooting deaths of her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew in 2008.

The actress Jennifer Hudson is embraced by Emma González, a survivor of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida

The actress Jennifer Hudson is embraced at the Washington DC rally by Emma González, a survivor of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

“We’ve all lost somebody … We’ve all got a purpose. And we want what? We want change,” she said, encouraging the vast crowd to sing along with her.

Hudson, appearing tearful as she concluded her performance, was backed by members of a Washington choir and survivors of last month’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Students from the school led rallies attended by hundreds of thousands of people in the US capital and other cities around the country.

Stars attending the Washington event included George and Amal Clooney and Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, who helped fund the protests with a combined $1m (£710,000) donation. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Glenn Close, Cher, Jimmy Fallon and Dennis Rodman also attended.

Common, Miley Cyrus, Andra Day, Vic Mensa, Demi Lovato, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt and Ariana Grande performed in Washington, and Rita Ora took to the stage in Los Angeles. A concert by Grande in Manchester last year was bombed, killing 22 people.

Ariana Grande performs at the rally in Washington DC

Ariana Grande performs at the rally in Washington DC. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

“This song is dedicated to Stephon Clark, Decynthia Clements and all the unarmed black men and women killed by police weapons,” Mensa said before performing Now We Could Be Free.

Amy Schumer, the comedian and cousin of the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, spoke to Parkland survivors attending the Los Angeles rally, telling them the violence they endured has to stop.

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