Santa Barbara Community Marches for Their Lives

By Jaden Gill, Editor-in-Chief

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Photo Credit: Gemma Sturgeon
Santa Barbara community members hold signs that read "We Demand a Ban" and "No More Silence End Gun Violence." Those who participated in the march gathered at De La Guerra Plaza before the march began.
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On March 24, passionate individuals across the U.S. came together to march in solidarity with Parkland, Florida and challenge loose gun control legislation in the biggest national protest in over 40 years. Santa Barbara hosted a student-organized sister march to accompany March for our Lives in Washington, D.C., an event spearheaded by the survivors of the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Santa Barbara community members—many of whom were students and teachers—gathered in De La Guerra Plaza to listen to speakers before marching down State Street. Among the speakers was California State Senator Hanna-Beth Jackson, who delivered a powerful speech directed towards the youth.  

“19 years ago we did the very same thing when Columbine was the first of what is now far too many incidents where our youth were shot and murdered in schools by insane people carrying weapons of war into the classroom,” Jackson said. “But your voice can get rid of the NRA. Your voice can get sanity back in the White House. Your voice is the voice we need for our future.”

After Jackson spoke, spirits were high as the marchers headed down State Street around 11:45 a.m. Over 1,000 locals from various ages and backgrounds attended the march which ended back at De La Guerra Plaza where the crowd soon dispersed.

Cristian Walk is a student in his last semester at Santa Barbara City College and was one of the primary organizers for Santa Barbara’s march. Walk has always had an interest in both history and political science, giving him the motivation to take charge in the face of political upheaval.

“The march was a massive success,” Walk said. “We had thousands of people show up for part of the democratic process. I say “part” because young people must follow through on the amazing work of the march by voting at the ballot box.”

Among the numerous Dos Pueblos students who attended the march was senior and president of DP’s Young Activists club, Isabel Seera.

“It is ridiculous that none of our politicians are doing anything about it,” Seera said. “So I decided to use my voice as a young person to express how I feel and how I want to see change.”

Seera marched as a student, but also as a member of the black community. While the event was centered around gun violence prevention in general, many speakers and marchers made sure to acknowledge the minority groups who have suffered the consequences of gun violence for decades.

“So much of the problem stems from white male masculinity and their fear of losing power,” Seera said. “We need to address that problem and go into our communities and listen to all minority groups, not just black groups, but LGBTQ+ and immigrants, all minority communities.”

DP Biology teacher Megan O’Carroll also attended the march to show her support, as both a teacher and a mother.

“I want to be able to focus on the important things like learning and teaching, and be able to support my students without having to fear for anyone’s life,” O’Carroll said. “I also have a two year old who will go to school one day and I want to feel that when I drop him off he is safe and that I’ll see him again when I pick him up.”

As mass shootings grow in prevalence, schools across the nation have been taking precautions to ensure the utmost safety on their campuses. However, for a majority of teachers and students, drills and security do not seem to be addressing the root of the problem.

“I want to feel safe at school and not have to feel like I’m constantly on edge and worrying about making sure my door is locked or not locked or closed,” O’Carroll said. “But I am proud and inspired by our youth; they’re taking charge and are actually being listened to.”

As the highly anticipated march came to a close, many emerging activists wondered what steps they would need to take in the wake of the march to continue pushing for gun violence prevention. According to Walk, for those who are 18 or will be turning 18 soon, the answer is fairly simple.

“We are lucky enough to live in a state that allows you to pre-register at 16 when you get your driver’s license and get a ballot sent straight to your doorstep at 18,” Walk said. “We have to follow up, make the change meaningful, and vote.”

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