Students, others take to streets over gun violence
Thousands of marchers filled the North Park Blocks of downtown Portland Saturday, March 24, before surging down Broadway and into Pioneer Courthouse Square, to protest violence in schools and a lack of action by lawmakers.
The March For Our Lives occurred here, in Washington, D.C., and around the nation, prompted by the February shooting of 17 people in a high school in Parkland, Fla. Police kept the surging crowds away from traffic, a couple of small scuffles broke out near the Park Blocks, and speakers filled Pioneer Courthouse Square for most of the morning.
Among the elected officials marching were U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici of Beaverton and Earl Blumenauer of Portland.
Five sophomore from Tigard High School brought handmade signs and rode in with their moms to make their voices heard.
"The only thing I should be be afraid of in school is, will I pass my chem test," said Meghan Turley, standing with her classmates.
"Schools should be places for creativity," said Layaal Khellah. "You can't live up to your potential if you're always scared."
Moms Michelle Woolfolk and Janine Turley stood behind their daughters, beaming a little but also nervous. "I'm excited that they're becoming activists and standing up for what they believe," Woolfolk said. "But I'm also sad that it has to be this issue. I wish it didn't have to be this."
Ryan Tran and Sophia Rupp, both seniors at Sunset High School, said they came because they were tired of people arguing that teenagers shouldn't have a voice in this issues. "Why shouldn't we have a voice?" Rupp asked. "We are the next generation of voters. We can make a change. And we will."
Diane Lohr of Metzger is a retired teacher from Echo Shaw Elementary School in Cornelius. Her message? "Children aren't collateral damage."
She came to protest assault-style weapons, and also the National Rifle Association. She also said she has become more political active in the past year. "To be honest, Trump's election galvanized me," she said.
Abby Jones, a sophomore at Mountainside High School, stood on the North Park Blocks with a sign that read, "Am I next?"
"It's scary," she said of gun violence in schools. It happens so often now. We think about it all the time."
Alyssa Camp and Hayley Lindsley are eighth-graders at Laurel Ridge Middle School in Sherwood. Both participated in the walkout at their school on March 14. "A lot of kids were worried about walking out; about getting in trouble," Lindsley said. "I didn't think that was right. I came down here today because I want them to know it's fine to speak out and it's not OK to have any more shootings."
Westview students Hailey Jones, senior, Shelby Shaw, senior, and Maddy Jones, freshman, wore matching black sweatshirts emblazoned with the hashtag #Enough. "We're tired of nobody doing anything," Shaw said. "Schools should be a safe place. But violence in schools is being normalized."
"It happens all the time and we don't notice," Hailey Jones added. "Unless 17 people die, we forget about it."
That's how many died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. Most of the Washington County students interviewed said Parkland changed things at their school. According to the Washington Post, more than 187,000 students have been gun violence in schools the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.
Among the retirees in the crowd was Beaverton's Connie Cambreleng, a former accountant. "I was active in the '60s and not so much in the '70s," she said with a weary sigh. "Then Trump got elected. So I'm back in this business, I guess."