Statesboro community participates in local March for Our Lives event

Elisabeth Malloy, sophomore political science major and event coordinator, lights candles for a vigil commemorating the lives of victims of gun violence. 

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The national March for Our Lives event was localized to Statesboro at Georgia Southern University’s campus Saturday afternoon.

While the main march was held in Washington D.C., similar marches throughout the nation were held in remembrance of those who died in the Parkland, Florida shooting and to raise awareness of current gun policies.

March for Our Lives

Elisabeth Malloy, sophomore political science major and event coordinator, said she expected about 100 to 150 marchers to attend, but between 220 to 250 marchers showed up to participate in the Statesboro march.

The march started at the Rotunda and went down Forest Drive. It then looped back around by the College of Business and headed back up the pedestrium ending at the Rotunda.

Shabi Grant, a Pre-K teacher at Sallie Zetterower Elementary School, shared her thoughts about gun violence as a teacher.

“As a teacher, I have 22 kids I’m responsible for,” Grant said. “I would do anything in my power to save their lives even if it meant giving up my own. We need to get some control. I think people really misunderstand what we mean with gun control, by meaning taking guns away completely and that’s not what we want to do. We want to limit who and how people get them.”

During the march, the protesters chanted various phrases including, “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “No more silence, stop gun violence.” 

Pro-gun advocates, like David Jackson, senior theatre major, also attended the march.

“I’m pro-gun control and pro-gun,” Jackson said. “Everyone has the right to bear arms in this country, but I believe there needs to be basic regulations such as a licensing mandate and mandatory training.”

Jonathan Copeland, freshman mechanical engineering major, said that he attended to counter protest the march in favor of the Second Amendment.

“Gun control will only disarm the law-abiding,” Copeland said.

Post-march speakers

After the march, five speakers presented speeches and poems advocating for gun control and stronger focus on mental health issues.

Malloy started by discussing the reasons the event was held. She then introduced the first speaker, Kannette King.

King, a junior at Statesboro High School, presented a poem drawing comparisons between schools and warzones.

“I feel like younger people should be involved [in the march] because we’re directly affected by it too,” King said. “We can’t just rely on the older generation.”

The next speaker was Statesboro First Lady Adrianne McCollar who spoke about the current climate of gun control policies. 

“This not about democratic incidents,” Adrianne McCollar said. “This is not about democratic agendas. This is about life and death. I believe in our second amendment right to bear arms and I’ll protect that right. We will not allow those though who are in opposition to crown our position of gun control by making this a zero sum gain to bear arms. This is about common sense policy making.”

Mayor Jonathan McCollar was also in attendance at the march and later offered his thoughts on the March for Our Lives event.

“[Gun violence] is a sombering matter that has been going on for a long time,” Mayor McCollar said. “We’ve lacked the leadership at the legislative, local, and state level. I think too often people forget that we are there to represent the people. We must not be afraid to be able to take the measures that’s going to protect our young people. I’m the first person to protect the second amendment, but at the end of the day we’ve got to use some common sense things to be able to protect our young people and our community.”

After Adrianne McCollar, Young Democrats President Eduardo Delgado, freshman political science major, spoke. Delgado talked about gun statistics about accidental misfires on school campuses and recent mass shootings.

“They say we are the future of this country,” Delgado said. “We cannot wait for the future. The future is now and we have to change these law before more of us get killed on these college campuses.”

Lastly, Auzi Dennison, double major in anthropology and political science presented an original poem entitled “The Wrong Side of History.”

“Our nation grieved,” Dennison said in her poem. “They gave their prayers and their tweets. They didn’t want to talk about it.”

Vigil for victims of gun violence

After the speakers, a vigil for victims of gun violence was led by Michael Woody, sophomore history major.

I have personally written down over 96 names and I was just crying the entire time,” Malloy said. 

Woody read names of victims of school shootings as participants placed names of the victims next to candles and lit them. Participants also laid white roses at the base of pictures of victims.

Children marchers

Children participated in the March for Our Lives alongside their parents.

Hannah Weaver, 8th grader at Langston Chapel Middle School, talked about her hopes for the next generation.

“It means that we can hopefully create a safer generation,” Weaver said. “Hopefully there will be less accounts of gun violence. We want to make a safer generation.”

Rylee Martingale-Rushing, a 11-year-old 5th grader, shared her thoughts on the event and the current issue with gun violence facing her generation.

“Well it’s good that we did a march on this with these mass shootings and everything but we still need to get….,” Martingale-Rushing said but then paused and looked to her mother mouthing the words “I don’t know.”

“Well then say ‘I don’t know what we need to do,’” Addie Martindale, Rylee’s mother, said.

“But we’ve got to do something,” Martindale-Rushing said. “Something, definitely something.”

Contributed:

Ashton Christianson, News Reporter

Matthew Enfinger, News Editor

Shiann Sivell, News Reporter

Emma Smith, News Reporter

Brendan Ward, Daily Managing Editor 

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