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home : education : schools May 26, 2018

3/27/2018 6:02:00 PM
Locals take part in March for Our Lives
Mia Burton, left, and Hana Schultz, students at SHS, took part in the March for Our Lives rally in Bend. photo by Charlie Kanzig
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Mia Burton, left, and Hana Schultz, students at SHS, took part in the March for Our Lives rally in Bend. photo by Charlie Kanzig

By Charlie Kanzig

People of all ages - including some from Sisters - joined a March for Our Lives rally in downtown Bend Saturday, March 24 in an event organized largely by Central Oregon teenagers.

The crowd gathered first at the amphitheater in Drake Park, where students shared music and speeches before leading marchers on a one-mile loop around downtown Bend.

Similar rallies took place around the nation in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting in which 17 students and staff lost their lives. That tragedy has galvanized young people throughout the country to speak up and take action against violence in schools.

While the majority of the focus on the issue has been on stricter gun control, speakers at the rally, as well as the signs marchers carried, also addressed the issues of more comprehensive mental-health care, increased resources within schools, and other ways to make schools, and society, safer.

Marchers carried signs reading such phrases as "Enough is Enough!," "Arm teachers with resources, not guns," "Remove battlefield weapons from our streets!" and "Thoughts and prayers don't stop bullets."

Susie Garcia, a Bend Senior High School student, addressed the crowd about school safety: "A school is not supposed to be a scary place," she said. "Students should not be afraid to get an education. Today we are standing up and we are screaming 'Enough is enough!'"

Members of the Sisters community took part in the rally, including students Mia Burton, Hana Schultz and Lala Debare. Burton carried a sign with the scales of liberty asking the question, "What weighs more to you, kids or guns?"

One adult commented on how impressed they were with the Central Oregon youth who organized the march, and also how eloquently they spoke as the crowd prepared to get moving following the student speeches: "Wow, these kids are very well-spoken and passionate."

That is in sharp contrast to a message put out by the NRA to its members according to numerous media outlets, accusing celebrities and billionaires of manipulating young people. Their message said, "Today's protests aren't spontaneous. Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones."

Annie Winter of Sisters attended with her eighth-grade daughter, Chloe. Winter, who is a school teacher said, "We attended as we feel that gun control is a critical issue, and only by protesting nationwide can we send a clear message to our elected officials that enough is enough," she said.

She added, "People in Sisters need to have honest, open discussions with their kids about school shootings and let them know that there are adults who they can trust to talk to if they have concerns about the behavior of a friend who may be exhibiting negative thoughts or actions."

One of the speakers concluded with a message to those holding political office by saying, "If those in power will not take care of us and our future, we, who are the future, will take care of the future."

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