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Massive crowd of Milwaukee families march to save their kids from guns

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“Watching the amazing young people who are leading the way forward in this country, I can’t help but feel inspired by the next generation. My former boss, President Obama, told these students they’ve awakened the nation’s conscience. But the question is, what will the rest of us do now that we’ve woken up. This is not a problem for one school, one neighborhood, or even one city. It’s up to all of us to say “Enough is enough.” We need to send a message to the NRA and the politicians in their pocket. If you won’t protect our young people – if you play politics with our lives – then we will replace you. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. The vast majority of the country believes the gun violence and mass shootings are serious problems, and that we should pass laws to do something about them.”

– Alex Lasry, Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks

Over the past month and a half, Isabella Staton, Marvell Reed, Sophia Zhang, and Linnea Stanton have worked tirelessly to organize and coordinate March for Our Lives demonstration in Milwaukee, from spreading the message on social media, meeting with press and politicians, and advocating for the importance of gun safety and reform.

On March 24, the four organizers and thousands of members from the local community gathered to remember those affected by gun violence, starting with the 17 lost at Stoneman Douglas high school to all those dealing with the impacts of mass shootings, from Sandy Hook to the Pulse Nightclub.

The assembly was a demand for change, to dislodge elected officials who followed orders from the National Rifle Association (NRA) instead of the public who elected them. The demand was also a call for action to save children from gun violence.

The #enough movement started when survivors of a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida sought to end the complicity in government towards the gun problem. Marches in cities across the country joined the central protest in Washington DC. The joint events were all called March for Our Lives for a simple reason. The youth leading the marches no longer felt safe in schools, movie theaters, churches, or their communities. They joined together for the well being and protection of their lives.

Organizers have faced criticism from gun supporters, even though nothing about the movement is an attack on the Constitution’s Second Amendment. They simply ask for common-sense gun laws, which to date have been prevented by the NRA lobby.

“GOP candidate Leslie Gibson targeted Emma Gonzalez, one of the most visible student activists from Parkland, Florida, calling her a “skinhead Lesbian.” He did that because he was afraid, and he felt trapped because she has a power that he didn’t expect her to have. And he didn’t expect her to have it because he assumed she had her nose in her iPhone, rather than in the books. Because his mind is radically small, while hers is open and dynamic enough to insight passion in every one of us.”

– Destiny DeVooght, a senior at Union Grove High School

“Do not listen to anyone that tries to dismiss this movement because of our age. We gather here today because we are marching for our lives. There are adults that are saying this is an “adult matter.” How can this exclusively be an adult matter when when we, the students, are constantly living in fear, wondering if we’re next? Our age does not limit our power. Look at the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963 where children peacefully marched in the streets of Birmingham. These children marched in one of the most racist cities in the country. These brave children forced Birmingham to reconsider their segregation laws. Dear Governor Walker, some of us go to schools that can not even afford textbooks. Some of us go to school in prison-like conditions. How can this be an adult matter when we have had money ripped away from us just so you can get money from the NRA?”

– Tatiana Washington, a co-coordinator for the 3/14 walk out at Rufus King High School

“Last week, I walked out. So did both my older brothers. I go to school to learn, not to worry about my safety. Code Reds should be a thing of the past. We said ‘never again’ and yet it happened again. When will the President step up and do something? When will Congress step up and do something? They haven’t acted, so we kids are acting. We need new gun laws. Recently I heard about a case where an 11-year-old brought a gun to school. How can someone as young as 11 years old, my age, get a gun? That is way too young. Our laws are not strong enough, if it’s so easy for someone so young to obtain a weapon so deadly.”

– Amaysa Chheda, a sixth grader at Golda Meir school

“I am a gun violence survivor. My mother died by gun suicide and never got to see me grow into the man I am today. And now, too many Parkland parents won’t see their children grow up either. That’s why we have to move from grief to action. There is a war on truth, a war on facts. Science and data proves that gun reform saves lives. We have been divided by an industry that makes their money as merchants of death, and the lies spread by feckless leaders who accept money from the blood soaked hands of the gun lobby buying our politicians.“

– Khary Penebaker, a UW–Milwaukee graduate and DNC representative

“Something has to change, it just has to. I don’t want to have to constantly fear I’m going to be shot in a place I’m supposed to feel safe. I don’t want to be a name at a memorial, I don’t want to be a number, and I don’t want to have to imagine the look on my parents face when they find out their daughter was massacred in her school. I go to a very conservative school, where people tote the NRA logo like it is the flag of their nation. So it was an extreme success for us to get over 100 people to participate in our school 3/14 walkout. We faced criticism, and discrimination, but the immense bravery of those kids that are tired of being told that nothing will change is inspiring. Because they believe something can.”

– Riley Reed, a social justice organizer at her high school

“Thousands of people have died as a result of gun violence in the city of Milwaukee, and some of those people are children under the age of 17. For far too many children in this city, the communities that they live in and the sidewalks that they play on are riddled with gun violence. It’s naïve to think that the only place that we deserve to be safe is in our schools. And it’s just as naïve to think that weak gun laws won’t allow bad people to have access to guns. The Milwaukee police department seized over 2,400 guns off the streets in 2017. Enough is enough, we deserve safety, we deserve stability, we deserve the right to reach adulthood, but most importantly we deserve the right to live.”

– Sydney Lee, student at UW-Milwaukee and founder of Community for Change

About The Author

Lee Matz

Former Creative Director and Photojournalist for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Lee brings his years of international experience as an award-winning foreign correspondent in Asia and Europe. Lee proudly uses MCTS as the exclusive mode of transportation for covering all his news reports.

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