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Marching for Our Lives: from Tallahassee

It’s been a little over a month since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the people of the United States are nowhere near finished fighting for the 17 lives that were lost on February 14, 2018. March for Our Lives is an organized protest and campaign that honors the victims of the shooting and advocates for reformed gun laws. On March 24, 2018, hundreds of thousands of people gathered across the nation to speak up for the ones who never got the chance to.

The rally followed 10 days after the national school walkout –  where nearly a million students throughout the country left their classrooms to recognize that it had been one month since the Parkland school shooting – and they wouldn’t stop fighting for justice. That same notion was made very clear here in Tallahassee as people of all ages joined in on the march for change.

A variety of speakers stood in front of the crowd to express their discontent, “yes I am a legislator, but today I am here as a mom – demanding action,” as said by one Florida state legislator. Speeches were followed by the chanting of “vote them out” and “black lives matter” as everyone acknowledged the multitude of groups of people affected by gun violence. Students from local middle and high schools said they “just want kids to be respected” and “don’t want guns to be an issue.” They all agreed that “no one should even have an AR-15.”

 

 

Several of the guest speakers were parents of young children who wanted a better educational environment, “please keep up the fight – I don’t want them going through what you went through.” One boy who accompanied his father in the protest said he “saw what the teenagers went through” and he hopes to see a solution to this problem – he even suggested that we use tougher background checks.

 

 

A teacher from a high school nearby said that gun control mattered to her because “guns are in the hands of the wrong people,” and she pointed out that some studies have shown that “if you own weapons you are more inclined to act aggressively.” She hopes to see stricter background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and an age raise for owning a gun.

 

 

The focus of the rally remained on the kids. A former FSU student spoke out on his experience during the 2014 shooting on campus at Florida State University, and how he was left paralyzed – “for two months I had to relearn how to live life.” He emphasized the importance of doing as much as we can for a better and more peaceful tomorrow.

After meeting different people and hearing individual stories, I am a firm believer that no one should have to step out of their home with the fear that it may be the last time they do. Whether it’s a school, movie theater, nightclub – enough really is enough. It’s painful to hear the names of the victims being listed into a microphone and not even be able to imagine what this all feels like for anyone who has been personally affected by gun violence. There is a light and the end of the tunnel, however. While one educator spoke on remarks he had heard about kids just not being “the same” these days, he said, “they’re right, you’re not – you’re a hell of a lot better.” The amount of activism that we see coming from such young people is truly amazing, and it is clear evidence that we are the generation of change.

All images courtesy of Kelly Ostruzka

Kelly Ostruszka is a senior at Florida State University majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media with a minor in Communications.
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