On Saturday, March 24th, a group of protestors congregated by the Linda Mar Beach to protest against gun violence in light of the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. Students from Terra Nova High School had organized this event thinking that a few friends would come, a couple hundred showed up. A few students along with a couple guest speakers gave passionate speeches about safety and gun control— or the lack thereof. Within minutes, tears had found their way into my eyes.
Students expressed their wish for change and a safe learning environment and underscored the injustice that was wrought from poor gun control laws. A mother from Moms Demand Action voiced her fear of never seeing her child again. A teacher connected the MSD shooting with the Columbine shooting but highlighted a key difference: this time students took action and people reacted.
After the speeches, the protesters marched from the Taco Bell by the beach past the highway to Rockaway beach. Throughout the march, students led chants with bullhorns, keeping the energy high.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, guns in schools have got to go!”
“Enough is enough!”
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough!”
Cars honked approvingly as they drove past.
The constant stream of protesters overtook the hills and crowded the beaches. It was awe-inspiring to both not see the front nor the back of the group due to the sheer number of people. At the end of the march, all of the young people were encouraged to group up and take a photo, the youngest being no older than a preschooler.
Henry Lie and Emily Then, both high schoolers at Terra Nova, were among the main organizers of the march. When asked what their motivations were in organizing the march, Lie responded that “The inaction of our elected officials to do something about the mass shootings… Since the people who are supposed to be doing things aren’t doing them, I figured, ‘Might as well take matters into my own hands’… A lot of this was organized by 2 juniors and 1 senior from Terra Nova” and Then responded that it is important to have “Pacifica as a community… to realize that gun control is a problem, that thoughts [and] prayers are not enough, and that everybody should support others”.
When asked what they would tell their legislators and lawmakers, Lie said, “It’s common-sense gun laws. That’s all we’re asking for, common sense and if they don’t have common sense then we’ll vote them out… This shouldn’t be a debate we’re having in the twenty-first century” and Then said, “No more lives, students [and] adults alike, should have to be sacrificed in order to make changes for gun laws… We want a safer America”.
Although the march was relatively short at 1.5 miles, it was truly a raw and cathartic experience to be with so many others who supported the same cause. Before this march, I hadn’t realized how much pain and uncertainty I held. Afterward, I felt more at ease and it reassured me that change is possible.