March For Our Lives Comes to Boston
On February 14th at 2:19pm Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 rifle and opened fire on the students and teachers inside. 14 students and 3 teachers were murdered that day. Cruz 19, a former student expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, had several red flags on him before the shooting.
Students were always wary of him. He was described as volatile by neighbors and peers. One student had said that he had brought knives to school, and that was the reason for his expulsion. Others were concerned by his Instagram account which was inundated with photographs of guns and one of a mutilated frog. Cruz’s Instagram bio at one point was ‘annihilator’ and he had said some disturbing things in group chats with his friends.
The survivors have taken note of these red flags and have declared that enough is enough. Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin are the students on the forefront of their movement: The March For Our Lives. Specifically, the movement calls for “1. Universal, comprehensive background checks 2. Bringing the ATF into the 21st century with a digitized, searchable database 3.Funds for the Center for Disease Control to research the gun violence epidemic in America 4. High-capacity magazine ban 5. Assault weapons ban” according to the March for Our Lives website. These students have put together several protests for stricter gun legislation beginning with nationwide school walkouts that took place on March 14, one month after the shooting. MSDHS students asked for supporters to stand together again in marches in cities across the nation. The main march took place in Washington D.C. where several teenagers from around the country who have been affected by gun violence spoke on the matter. These speakers included many of the MSDHS survivors like Emily Gonzalez and David Hogg. There was estimated to have been over 200,000 people marching that day in D.C. and over 100,000 here in Boston.
The Boston March began in Madison Park. Participants walked two miles to the Boston Common where even more supporters gathered to hear the speakers. Before the marchers arrived, the crowd began to form around the stage. Chants like “Show me what democracy looks like- This is what democracy looks like.” and “Hey, Hey, NRA. How many kids have you killed today?” were shouted from the crowd. There were several people walking around with clipboards asking people to register to vote if they weren’t already registered. Right before the speeches began, all people under 25 years old walked through, making paths like veins toward the heart of the protest. There were security guards allowing only students in through the gates closest to the stage. When the speeches finally began the enormous crowd all quieted to listen.
Leslie Chiu, alumni of MSDHS and current freshman at Northeastern University, was one of the first speakers. Chiu gave a heartfelt speech about the people who she lost and how her school will always be remembered as the school where this tragedy occurred. Shortly after, Leonor Muñoz, senior at MSDHS and survivor of the shooting, spoke with his sister Beca about the horrors that went on that day. Muñoz described hearing the taps of the SWAT team on his classroom doors to let them know it was safe to exit the building. He said, “When my father knocked on my door the next morning I woke up thinking I was back there.” Munoz went on explaining how this trauma will affect him for the rest of his life. This speech was enough to move many to tears. The students declared that enough is enough, and thousands of people were behind them sporting signs that all carried that same message. Several signs read “Disarm Hate” “Arms are for Hugging” “School is no place for fear.”
Although the Marches have concluded the movement won’t rest until there is change. The March For Our Lives movement relies on the help of civilians. MSDHS survivors urge their supporters to register to vote and vote for legislation that makes obtaining guns and assault weapons more difficult. Other ways support can be shown is by signing the petition or donating to the cause. These donations will go towards funding the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to do more research on how these laws affect gun violence. It will also go towards modernizing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Currently the ATF keeps records of registered guns only in hard-copy. They have no searchable database which makes it difficult to track red-flag purchasers and other potential issues. You can show your continued support by donating at https://marchforourlives.com/.