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My First Protest: March for Our Lives
Carolina Ambros
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On Saturday, March 24, I jumped out of bed at 3:15 in the morning to catch a 5:30 bus from New York to Washington, D.C. I was heading to my first protest: the March for Our Lives, a student-driven demonstration against gun violence.

Guns have become the third-leading cause of death for American kids, surpassed only by illness and accidents. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over 26,000 American children have been killed by guns since 1999—including 1,678 kids who were younger than 5 years old.

For me, the threat is personal. I’m from Guaiba, a small town in the southern part of Brazil. On the outskirts there’s a lot of gang activity and gun violence. When I was younger, my stepfather was held hostage by an armed gang during a bank robbery. It still scares me to think about that, but I am grateful he and the other hostages were saved by police.

I wanted to participate in this protest to show that no matter where we live, gun violence has to stop. I was inspired to go partly because the march was organized by teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, shot and killed 14 students and three adults there.

Although Cruz had exhibited violent behaviors and even threatened to shoot up his school, he was still able to easily purchase a semi-automatic assault-style rifle, and to kill 17 people in a little over six minutes.

The students of Parkland decided that their school wouldn’t become just another statistic, so they quickly organized the #NeverAgain movement. They marched on their state capital in Tallahassee and planned events including a March 14 school walkout for 17 minutes and the March 24 March for Our Lives demanding stronger gun control laws. Marches took place across the United States and in cities around the world, including Paris, Rome, and Tokyo. Even though there was a march in New York, I felt that I’d be making more of an impact if I went to D.C. I knew that’s where the largest group of people would be.

During the four-hour bus ride, my friends and I made our posters. The time passed quickly, and then I saw RFK Stadium, where our bus was parking, joined by many others. Crowds of us took the subway into the center of Washington, laughing, cheering, and talking loudly. I felt the unity and determination we all had for change.

image by YC-Art Dept

When we reached the rally, I saw people of different races, cultures, ages, and countries—all together to prevent guns from taking more victims. I felt as if we were all a giant family, ready to support and motivate one another to keep fighting. We smiled at one another, complimented each other’s posters, and took pictures.

The rally itself was inspiring, but what moved me the most was the reaction around me to the speeches. As soon as the teen speakers came onto the stage, people cheered, clapped, and shouted words of encouragement. During the speeches there was a respectful silence.

When speakers talked about politicians who refuse to pass gun control laws, we chanted, “Vote them out!” This march showed me how important it is for teens to keep up with what’s going on in politics because soon we will be the ones voting for our representatives in government.



Stop Gun Violence

To help prevent gun violence, check out these organizations—VOTE!

Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.)
crownheights.org/yosos

Gays Against Guns
gaysagainstguns.net

Everytown For Gun Safety
646-324-8250
everytown.org

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(FCYU-2018-07-15)