(EnviroNews California) — Oakland, CA — Students, poets, singers and activists took to the podium on March 25, 2018, at the historic March for Our Lives demonstration in Oakland, California. The event was attended by over 3,000 people and was a vibrant part of what news agencies and research firms are classifying as one of the largest protests in the history of the United States.
The featured video in this story shows Ivan Garcia who turned out to represent the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission. He started off by calling by name, all 17 of the students gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.
“Oftentimes we fail to understand that these victims were just like us,” Garcia asserted. “They were young people who went to school every single day, just like us… They had to do their homework every night, just like us. They laughed, they cried and they had their own things that they were passionate about, just like us.”
“I don’t want my sister to grow up in a country that normalizes mass shootings — especially in schools,” Garcia continued, adding, “It is our duty to rise up when people in power do not.”
Also amongst the speakers was Sevan Apollo, a local poet who helped organize the event as well. He used his skills with words and letters to make a point: “To the ones who oppose us: Maybe there’s a reason why ‘AR-15’ backwards looks a lot like ‘NRA’ — but not today.”
Our safety is more important than your profits. There is no return on investment when it comes to human life. Our self worth is more important than your net worth. Our children’s lives are not for sale, so we’re no longer buying your agenda. We no longer can afford to.
“It’s amazing that people who love guns are surprised that we are now triggered,” Apollo declared. “So, let me hammer this point, because there is something that you need to know: The four chambers of our hearts is more powerful than the chambers in your guns!”
Apollo wasn’t the only poet taking the podium though. 15-year-old Samuel Getachew threw down the gauntlet as well, making one point crystal clear: “Black Lives Matter.” In few other places, could this phrase (and movement), strike more of a chord than in Northern California, where only days earlier the area had witnessed one of the most gruesome police attacks on an unarmed, innocent black man in recent memory. And Getachew made sure people, and the media, heard the name of that man one more time:
Last Sunday, Stophon Clark was shot 20 times by police officers while standing in his grandparents’ backyard in Sacramento. The police thought his cell phone was a gun. It is impossible to talk about guns in America without talking about the criminalization of black bodies.
“I thought a lot about the Second Amendment, and how it doesn’t seem to quite apply to everyone, and how a black man with a gun is a threat, but a white man with a gun is a patriot,” Getachew said. “And I find it fascinating how the right to bear arms comes second only to free speech, but is 11 amendments above outlawing slavery.”