Santa Barbara March for Our Lives Taking Place March 24

Begins at 10 a.m. in De La Guerra Plaza

“We get dismissed as not knowing how the adult world works yet,” says Rachel Ng, a third-year student at UCSB. Ng is an organizer for the Santa Barbara March for Our Lives, one of what are currently 687 satellite events happening all over the world — including in all 50 states — on March 24. As with the March for Science and the Women’s March, the primary event will take place in Washington D.C., where students and their families will protest in the streets, demanding that the government produce effective legislation to prevent further gun violence. “It was almost a duty we had to these students,” said Cristian Walk, an SBCC student and fellow organizer of the local march. “You had the students coming out on their own trying to create this movement…we’re in solidarity with them.”

The Santa Barbara March will begin at 10:00 am at De La Guerra Plaza. Protesters will listen to a series of speakers — including state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Krystle Farmer, a student advocate at SBCC — before marching down State Street. As of this writing, the event’s Facebook page lists 1,400 “interested” and 550 attendees. According to its mission statement, “Congress refuses to enact sensible, tried-and-tested laws to protect our children. 1,300 children each year die from gun related deaths, with a disproportionate number of the victims being children of color. We are changing that.”

Organizers stress that there’s an important difference between this event and the previous Women’s March and March for Science. While the organizing committee does include adult professionals (Raeanne Napoleon and Robbie Haines Fischer, both professors at SBCC), this event is primarily powered by student energy—including Ng, Walk, and Ethan Steiner, a student at Alta Vista Alternative High School. “I remember Columbine. I was in high school; I remember how shocking it was,” Napoleon said. “The kids who are planning this march are the ones who grew up with lockdown drills. They have active shooter training…for them it’s normal. But while it’s normal, it shouldn’t be.”

Ng and Walk seem comfortable in the spotlight. They point out that students have played major roles in political history across the world. “Some of the most iconic images of the civil rights movement are students,” Ng said. Now, “we’re not only major players, but organizers—even if adults don’t like it.”

And while the rash of marches over the past year have primarily been powered by opposition to the Trump administration, organizers insist that the March for Our Lives is not a partisan movement. Ng is a registered Republican, and Walk is an independent. “We don’t need to abolish the Second Amendment,” said Fischer. “We just need to put in place some commonplace measures that exist everywhere else in the world.”

Ng agreed: “The other marches—the science march, the Women’s March—their goals were things that were super divisive. But everyone agrees across the board that gun violence should not happen in schools.”

Asked if their goals differ from those of the nationwide March for our Lives, Ng says “We talk more about the disproportionate amount of violence against people of color. It’s not that the national march has forgotten it, but it’s one of the things that we’re really trying to emphasize.”

While organizers say they’ve received community support from local groups—including the Santa Barbara Democratic Party, Californians Against Gun Violence, and the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee—the Santa Barbara March doesn’t have any official affiliates. “Every group wants to turn it into their march,” Ng explained. “Mental health, restorative justice, toxic masculinity…they’re all issues we agree with, but we want to talk about the guns.”

“What’s exciting [about this moment in time] is that it feels like there’s this stirring…it’s analogous to the civil rights movement, and the women’s movement, and the protests against Vietnam,” Napoleon said. “I feel like we’re going to make the textbooks. I’m not trying to glamorize that, because it sucks, but it just feels that way.”

“For me, it’s like a lot of movements that have been successful throughout American history that have taken a long time,” Walk said. “I’m not exactly sure where we are in our journey…Regardless, I think we’ve got to do what we can to move it along.”


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