March for Our Lives protests set for Saturday

aheymann@vagazette.com

The group March for Our Lives will hold marches across the country, including in Williamsburg, on March 24.

This demonstration follows the National School Walkout on March 14. March for Our Lives is a protest movement organized by high school students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in response to a shooting at their school that took 17 lives on Feb. 14. According to the organization’s website, marchers demand that children’s lives and safety become a priority and call for an end to gun violence and mass shootings in schools.

The main march attended by students from Stoneman Douglas will occur in Washington, D.C. The event will start at noon at Pennsylvania Avenue, between 3rd and 12th streets NW. There are 817 marches registered worldwide.

Citizens in Williamsburg have planned a local march on the same day. The Williamsburg March for Our Lives' Facebook page said the demonstration will begin at 2 p.m. March 24 at the Colonial Capital building, and then walk down Duke of Gloucester Street.

Christine Payne, an organizer of the local march, said while this event is student organized, it’s also being sponsored by Moms Demand Action of the Peninsula, Common Ground Williamsburg, Middle Peninsula Progressives, Peninsula Indivisible, Williamsburg Indivisible Group, Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists’ Social Justice group and other local progressive groups.

Students speaking at the march will include Greg Akerman, president of the William and Mary Young Democrats, Sarah Schlosser of Bruton High School, Samyuktha Mahadevan, from William and Mary Students Demand Action, Isabela Riofrio, a student at Hornsby Middle School, Skyla Bailey, vice president of the York Youth Commission and Luca BenYishay-Sapalio, a kindergarten student.

Other speakers include the Reverend Max Blalock, from the United Methodist Church Wesley Foundation, Mark C. Downey, a local pediatrician, Katrina Landon, a teacher at Woodside High School in Newport News, Reverend Laura Horton-Ludwig, from the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists and Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News.

Also at the Williamsburg march, Bobby “BlackHat” Walters will introduce and play a recording of “Run Baby Run,” a song he wrote in response to school shootings.

While Payne said each speaker will talk for between 3-5 minutes and there should be an even split between time between walking and listening to speakers.

Payne does not believe there will be an issue of counter-protestors causing conflict because the march is working with law enforcement.

“We expect this to be a peaceful demonstration, an informative demonstration,” Payne said. “Something where we can all learn a little bit more leaving than going in.”

A March for Our Lives is also planned in Newport News. It will begin at 10 a.m. March 24 at Panera Bread on 12368 Warwick Blvd. and walk toward Patrick Henry Mall.

Payne said many buses organized by activist groups going up to D.C. are full, however there is a bus leaving from Virginia Beach that still has seats available. Bus tickets are $60 plus fees through eventbrite.com. The bus will pick up passengers at 6:30 a.m. at the Silverleaf Commuter Station on 4300 Commuter Drive, Virginia Beach, and at 7 a.m at the Hardees near Military Circle Mall on 5859 East Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk. The bus will leave from D.C. at around 4 p.m.

Want to know more?

To find out more about the March for Our Lives movement, or to look up a local march, visit marchforourlives.com.

You can also donate to March for Our Live’s through marchforourlives.com/donate or by buying something on the group’s store on represent.com/store/marchforourlives.

To find out more about the bus that’s stopping in Virginia Beach and Norfolk visit the March for Our Lives — VA Bus to D.C. event page on Facebook.

Amelia Heymann can be reached by email at aheymann@dailypress.com, or on twitter @HeymannAmelia.

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