CLEVELAND- On Saturday, March 24, more than 500,000 people are expected to travel to Washington, D.C. to take part in the March for Our Lives. The march is organized by the student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Among the half-a-million marchers in D.C. will be a group of a dozen or so teens and church members from St. Paul Community Church in Ohio City.
“We’re concerned about our youth and about gun control so when we heard about the march in D.C. we’re putting together a small van-load of people from our congregation and a few other people from the community to ride down on Saturday and take park in the march,” said Tim Walters, who is helping organize the trip along with the church’s pastor, Doug Horner.
Natasha Cruz, 13, will be marching, too. Walters is her grandfather and will be looking out for her. Cruz is bringing along her best friend and says this is her first trip to the nation’s capital and her first time getting involved in a political protest.
“I think that a lot of the stuff that happened in the Florida shooting was ridiculous because the kid that had access to a gun shouldn’t have had access to the gun he had,” Cruz explained.
Cruz says she and other students felt uneasy after the most recent school shooting. “That day I couldn’t concentrate at school; when I went back to school I felt a little nervous,” she said.
Cruz’s mom, Nina Sullivan, admits she was a little nervous sending her teenage daughter to another state to protest, but understands it’s an important way for her daughter to express her views.
“She actually does see what’s going on with the world, that she does have these feelings and these thoughts and these fears that many other kids have but she has this advantage, she has a platform that has been passed down to her for generations,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan herself went to her first protest in D.C. with her dad when she was nine or ten years old and says the young people stepping up may make a big difference.
“I think that these kids breathe a breath of fresh air in showing that they care what happens to each other,” she said.
According to the March for Our Lives website, those students want a comprehensive bill addressing gun issues and schools to be brought immediately before Congress.
“I know that I’m here to help kids feel safe at school. I know I’m here to help kids to want to go to school because they know that they’re safe, and because they can learn,” Cruz said.
The group from St. Paul’s Community Church is leaving at 4 a.m. on Saturday. The march begins in Washington, D.C. at noon and will go down Pennsylvania Avenue.