In Belgrade, Serbia, the echoes of tragedy have transformed into a powerful call for change. A series of mass shootings in May 2023 set off what became one of Serbia’s largest protests in recent history. The movement, named “Serbia Against Violence”, was sparked by the tragic events of 4-5 May 2023 that left 17 dead, including a school shooting where a 13 year old boy killed nine children and a custodian. Immediately, calls for gun reform, better access to mental healthcare, and criticisms about the role of reality TV programmes in creating a culture of violence became the rallying cry of the protesters that took to the streets.
Led by opposition parties, the Serbia Against Violence protests have been named the most massive protests in Serbia’s recent history and the largest since the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević 23 years ago. As weeks passed, the protests evolved into a call for something much larger—a demand for democratic reforms and transparency in governance. What emerged was a series of weekly protests lasting over 25 weeks, uniting tens of thousands to champion change in a movement that may have the potential to change Serbia’s modern political environment.