By Sarah McCauley
An estimated 2,000 people gathered outside Bellingham City Hall in the pouring rain to advocate for an end to gun violence and school shootings on March 24.
A group of 11 high school students from various schools in Bellingham, a teacher, youth leader, retired professor and three Western undergraduates worked together to make the march happen.
Jennifer Reidel, a teacher from Options High School, and several high school students spoke on the importance of the march and the meaning behind their chant “enough is enough.” Speeches addressed multiple issues, including the need for better mental health care and gun regulations.
The group was formed following the lead of Students for Action, a group of high school students from the Bellingham School District that formed shortly after the Parkland school shooting in Florida. They planned to attend the march in Washington D.C., which left an opening for another group to form and lead a march in their local community.
Hoku Rivera is one of three Western students who became a part of this local movement.
“To be completely honest, we didn’t actually know whether or not we were going to have a march in the first place, in Bellingham,” Rivera said. “However, at the first planning meeting with students, [they] pushed to have it because we want to show our support for the national movement.”
Nate Southcott, a student at Sehome High School, shared a spoken word poem he had written with the crowd. In his poem, he questioned the need for deadly weapons and painted a picture of what it would be like to lose a loved one to gun violence.
“It’s terrible that we have to be a part of this movement, but awesome that we are and that we’re doing something other than just sitting by,” Southcott said.
While the majority of those involved were high school students, the demographic of people standing on the street that day was widespread. From toddlers to retirees, multiple generations marched to support students.
Reidel was an integral part of the team behind the march. She stood beside the students through the process and hoped that other adults would advocate for them as well.
“I hope that they’ll see the energy of all ages, especially the students, but I don’t think the change is going to happen if we throw this on the students’ backs,” Reidel said. “I think it has to be students and adults and all generations saying ‘we’re done.’”
Western senior Alex McCoy walked with her friends, community members and thousands of other people eager to make change happen.
“I’m really sick of watching people get killed by guns. That’s a pretty good reason I think,” McCoy said. “I hope that this gets the media coverage that it needs…enough is enough.”