Archive | March, 2018

Long Beach Students March for Their Lives

26 Mar

More than a 1,000 students, parents and their supporters, in solidarity with the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 24, rallied twice at Bixby Park, with a march in between, to end gun violence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student leader Kelly Chinchilla, who is a student in the Long Beach Unified School District, emceed the rally, which included speeches by student leaders and local elected officials.  Among the elected local officials who spoke were Mayor Robert Garcia, 3rd District Councilwoman Suzie Price, Long Beach Unified District President Megan Kerr and Los Angeles County 4th District Los Angeles Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Hahn told the crowd that tougher gun-control ordinances for Los Angeles County will be forthcoming, without being specific, which will limit where and what kind of gun  may be purchased and how old someone must be to purchase a gun.

Besides the speeches, there was poetry and music.

The rally’s program began with Isaiah Walker, who teaches at Wilson High School and the director of the school’s gospel choir.  Walker said he is passionate about social justice. He then sang Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinchilla, who is also a member of Californians for Justice, at the end of the first rally and just before the march admonished the audience to not walk in the street, to not obstruct traffic and to not engage with any counter protesters.

The marchers headed on Ocean Blvd. toward downtown.  Once downtown, they turned north toward Broadway.  On Broadway, the marchers headed back to Bixby Park.

Jennifer Allyn carrying her sign at Long Beach March for Our Lives

Jennifer Allyn, with her sign, said, “I’m marching so my kids will never text me under a desk.” Photo by Barry Saks

The audience for the second rally at the park had shrunk to about three hundred.  Again, like the first rally, student leaders from the different schools spoke or performed their poetry.  Not all the speakers at the second rally were student leaders.

Alan Lowenthal, the representative from the 47th Congressional District spoke.  Lowenthal told the audience, “This is an historic moment that we are living through…I’m just honored to be part of something that was created by students, organized by students, carried out by students and will lead the nation to change.  The last time we had a student movement like this is we stopped the Vietnam War, we changed the major civil rights of this nation to protect all.”

At the end of the second rally, Chinchilla reiterated the students’ demands: ban the sale of assault-style weapons; prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines; and, close the gun-show loophole.

Ben Rockwell at Long Beach March for Our Lives

Long Beach resident and longtime civic activist Ben Rockwell in his wheelchair with sign, on Saturday, March 24, before the first rally; photo by Barry Saks.

Before the protest, while the student leaders were setting up, Josie Hahn, a 17-year-old student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, said, “We are here, of course, to march for our lives because recently there has been the Parkland shooting and we want our voices to be heard that guns in schools and kids dying with gun violence is no longer OK.”  She added, “As a student at Long Beach Poly, there is always gun violence around the neighborhood.”  More particularly, she said that a couple of weeks ago, as she and others were driving to Poly, she saw on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Martin Luther King Blvd., five police cars.  She later found out that there were three shootings around the school that time.  Hahn, who said she joined the Women’s March, later as part of the first rally’s program, read one of her poems.

One supporter, who was present with her son for the first rally was Candyce Simpson, 50.  Simpson, who has been a LBUSD high school counselor for 22 years and lives in the city of Signal Hill, said, “I’m here to support students…They shouldn’t be scared to go to school…I think they’re going to make the biggest change.  It always comes from them…We don’t support them with social and emotional counseling.  We just test them more.”