By Adrian Martino
Mitchell Park was overflowing last weekend with thousands of people who marched to call for an end to gun violence in schools.
Led by area high school students, many young protestors spoke with fervor about gun control.
“It is a surreal feeling standing in the center of a thousand people and having them listening, cheering and applauding for what you are saying because they believe in it too,” Oliver Hicks, a San Luis Obispo High School student said. “That is life changing.”
This protest in San Luis Obispo on March 24 was part of a nationwide effort called March for Our Lives where more than 800 events took place simultaneously from coast to coast. This massive effort was in response to the high frequency of school shootings occurring in the U.S.
In an unprecedented move, high school students are standing up for their safety following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida February where 17 students were killed.
The local event was organized by Women’s March San Luis Obispo, in conjunction with SLO County Progressives a group that is helped run by Cuesta faculty member, Melanie Barket.
Barket also participated in the rally, waving her politically charged sign in protest of the NRA.
“The SLO Progressives were proud of the turnout of antI-gun members in the community,” Barket said.
Even a local congressman participated in the march in support of the students and gun control.
“Today is a great day to see our nation and our local community youth speak out saying enough is enough,” Representative Salud Carbajal told The Cuestonian.
“We need to make sure that congress passes laws that protect all Americans…I am so proud of our young people speaking out today,” Carbajal said.
The end of each of the speeches or music presentation was followed by long applause and shouts of “enough is enough.” Each voice in the park came together to express their common goal.
“I am a public school teacher and I like to make sure that I am safe, my students are safe and guns will not be a part of our schools,” said Lacie Newton, a Los Osos Middle school teacher.
Guided by police officers, the public marched one mile through the streets of downtown SLO. Osos, Marsh, Nipomo and Higuera streets were taken over by people, their posters and chants that demand the end of gun violence. On the sidewalk, people took pictures with cell phones or simply admired the crowd passing by.
The movement was sparked by the young people from the Florida high school through their outcry on social media after the shooting at their school. For some, this was a key factor in the popularity of this movement.
“They are comfortable with the media, with digital film, they have phones, they use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and they are already there,” Kathy Roberts, a retired educator said. “These kids are amazing.”
The resolution among the students is fierce. They say they are in it for the long haul.
“We will keep walking, we will keep protesting, we will keep rising up…,” said Franco Jira, an Atascadero High School student. “We will not go away until there will be change and we believe that we will make change.”