Story and photos by Stefanie Donahue
Joining hundreds of thousands of protestors in cities across the globe, approximately 75 people, including students, parents and teachers, took part in ‘March For Our Lives’ in Blaine on March 24 to protest mass shootings at U.S. schools and call on lawmakers to tighten gun restrictions.
Created and led by students, ‘March For Our Lives’ drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington, D.C. and thousands more to 800 other connected protests. In Bellingham, roughly 3,000 people took part in the demonstration on Saturday.
The protest followed the death of 17 individuals who were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14. Days after the shooting, students from the high school came together to organize ‘March For Our Lives’ in Washington, D.C.
In Blaine, tenth graders Aurora Edwards, 15, and Emma Breedlove, 16, helped organize the march. They were encouraged to do so by their school guidance counselor, Rick Vander Yacht. Edwards’ grandfather, Jeff Schamel, created signs to promote the local march and her dad, Robert Edwards, agreed to speak at the event in support. The city granted a parade permit and the Blaine Police Department cordoned off the road to escort marchers safely through town.
Around noon, approximately 75 people showed up to the Blaine Senior Center, eagerly hoisting signs with messages that read ‘Never Again’ and ‘Students Demand Action.’ They proceeded to Peace Arch State Park, where Aurora and her dad, Robert, spoke. Other people also addressed the crowd.
“Our kids don’t feel safe anymore and that’s unacceptable,” Robert said. “Why has there been so little change up to this point?” He added, “Our elected representatives don’t represent us. They represent their donors. […] That change is going to have to come from us.”
Aurora said, “Enough is enough. We shouldn’t have to be scared to be at school. We’re there to learn.”
Blaine High School English and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher Christine St. Pierre addressed the crowd and said, “I don’t want a gun. I want new books.”
Despite the local turnout, not all residents were in support of the march.
On The Northern Light’s Facebook page, reader Richard Moon said, “I’ve never seen so many people fight to get their rights taken away.” Reader Betty Guthrie added, “No law will ever stop evil in the hearts of mankind.”
‘March For Our Lives’ organizers are asking people to sign a petition that calls on lawmakers to ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to tighten background check laws, among other things.
To learn more about March For Our Lives or to sign the petition, visit marchforourlives.com.