Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Belgrade on Friday, demanding better security and media reform after two mass shootings that killed 17 people, including many children, in less than a week.
The protesters blocked a major bridge over the Sava River, causing traffic disruption and chanting slogans against President Aleksandar Vucic, whom they accuse of creating a climate of violence and despair in the country.
The march was the second large protest in Belgrade since the shootings, which shocked the nation and sparked calls for change. On 3 May, a 13-year-old boy used his father’s gun to open fire at his school in central Belgrade, killing four students and two teachers. The next day, a 20-year-old man randomly shot at people in a rural area south of the capital, killing 11 people, including six children.
The protesters demanded the resignation of key ministers, a ban on violent TV content and the revocation of licenses for two pro-government TV stations that often feature convicted war criminals and crime figures on their shows.
They also called for better mental health care and gun control, as well as an end to political pressure and intimidation.
The government has condemned the shootings as isolated acts of madness and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. Vucic has dismissed the protests as politically motivated and accused the opposition of exploiting the tragedy.
He said the police would not intervene in the protests unless people’s lives were endangered, but warned that blocking traffic was a form of violence and harassment.
The protesters said they would continue their demonstrations until their demands are met. They said they were fighting for a safer and more democratic Serbia.