Gun violence and mass shootings are a tragic part of our society today. Beginning in 1999 with the Columbine High School shooting, in Columbine, Colorado, there have been an abhorrent number of mass shootings and casualties due to gun violence. On February 14th at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there was a shooting that killed 17 people and injured many more. After a lack lustre, defensive and apathetic response from lawmakers, students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have not sat down quietly. Following their lead, students across the nation have taken action and are standing up against the National Rifle Association and those who do not support gun reform. Student are fed up with living in fear of being killed by military grade weapons and assault style rifles. This was an issue that I really am passionate about, and does affect communities lower socioeconomic status and communities of color disproportionately. In my entire life, I have felt that there have been too many gun violence incidents, and I have been afraid of the excessive amount of guns in society.
Genesis attended the Rally and March starting in Frank Ogawa Plaza. We stood in the square, surrounded by like minded individuals, and we listened to student testimonies. Students from different schools around Oakland spoke on the inter-sectional issues that stem from lack of gun reform, from being afraid to go to school to gun violence in their neighborhoods. Students shared music and poetry about their experiences. Many of the students who spoke were people of color, very diverse and from many different backgrounds and interests. There were very diverse ages of protesters and attendees, ranging from very young children, through to high school students and many adults, as well. Attendees were engaged with the speakers and signs from the march included “Books before Bullets”, “18th century laws cannot regulate 21st century firearms”, and banners displaying the hashtags, #neveragain and #enough.
It was inspiring to see students, who do not have the right to vote (yet), embrace their freedom to organize and speak about what they believe, express their fears and speak eloquently and articulately. Most importantly, students and youth showed up to the rally and march, and many registered to vote. There was one counter protester who did not bother anyone and who no one bothered. There was an organizer who was standing with the counter protester but really there was nothing but peace and positivity at the March in Oakland. After this march, I hope that students will continue to organize around this issue until real change and gun reform is made.