March for our lives
The March for Our Lives event was held at the Aiken Courthouse on March 24 and featured a diverse range of participants of numerous races, ages and backgrounds who came together to honor the lives lost in school shootings and to promote the end of gun violence. Along the march from the courthouse to Newberry Street, people raised banners and signs in protest and chanted “no more silence, end the violence.”
The March for Our Lives mission statement, presented by Soren Granger at the march, states that “March for Our Lives is created by, inspired by and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings.”
Amethyst Marroqin, the USCA Student Body Vice-President, said, “Schools are not a place of violence but a place of education” and that we have “created a culture where guns are more important than children’s safety.” In her speech at the march, Marroqin declared that “we are here to remind our representatives that they represent us.”
Brye Epley, a senior at USCA, said, “Teaching people about safety and stopping the normalization of violence” is an essential step towards preventing school shootings. In her speech, she emphasized that “education is supposed to be a right. Safety is supposed to be a right, but safety is a privilege.”
Charmaine Wilson, Chair of the Communication Department, said “Students organizing rallies is a great start to change.” Elizabeth Georgian, an Associate Professor of History for USCA, said she is “encouraged not only by the student presence [at the March], but by the leadership and the initiative they are showing to put an end to gun violence.”
Richard Doorman, Jr., an Aiken High School senior and President of the Young Democrats of Aiken High School, gave a moving and eye-opening speech at the March for Our Lives. He rejected House Bill 4972, which aimed to arm teachers, by stating the government should “arm teachers with supplies, not guns.” He also stated that “13,000 Americans perish each year because of gun violence” and that in the recent Florida shooting, Nikolas Cruz “bought 7 firearms legally,” including an assault rifle. Richard Doorman, Jr., emphasized the importance of some bills that would be incredibly influential in ending mass school shootings. These bills include House Bill 4975, House Bill 4990, and Senate Bill 0516.