EVERETT — Local students are preparing to lead rallies and marches in Snohomish County on Saturday.
The protests are sister marches to the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. The national effort is focused on demanding action from U.S. lawmakers to address gun violence.
Planning started after 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month. Organizers are calling for changes to gun laws, including banning assault weapons, prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines and tightening background check requirements for the purchase of firearms.
Around the country, hundreds of marches and rallies are in the works. One is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Everett, another for 10 a.m. in Marysville.
Three seniors from Marysville Pilchuck High School plan to be at both events. Kyla Morrison, Olivya Cerdinio and Cece Watson have been helping coordinate the 10 a.m. rally at Asbery Athletic Field on Alder Avenue.
Morrison and Cerdinio were together in the Marysville Pilchuck cafeteria Oct. 24, 2014, when they heard gunshots. They were freshmen. One of their classmates shot five of his peers, four of them fatally, before killing himself.
“From the perspective of knowing how it feels, it puts more depth behind (the rally),” said Morrison, 18.
Cerdinio said she has been inspired by the students in Florida who are speaking out. She wants that energy here.
“Especially students from Marysville, I hope they realize they don’t have to be scared to use their voice,” said Cerdinio, 17. “This is an issue we have authority to talk about.”
Katina Brown, 27, is helping organize the march in Everett. She’s a student and the diversity and engagement coordinator at Everett Community College. Planning for the march involves a number of local organizations, including the Snohomish County NAACP and League of Women Voters.
“One of the main reasons so many organizations are supporting this movement is because we see how important it is for these students to be heard,” said Louis Harris, vice president of the Snohomish County NAACP. “We see how important these student-led movements are because they really get the ball rolling.”
The plan is to march about one mile, starting near the Snohomish County Courthouse at 1 p.m. The route goes from Pacific Avenue to Broadway to Hewitt to Rucker, and then back to the courthouse, Brown said. Afterward, survivors of gun violence, local students and others plan to speak.
Brown wants people to keep talking about gun violence until something is done to bring about its end.
“These marches are across the United States,” she said. “We’re all having a collaborative voice to be heard.”
Brown attended Marysville Pilchuck. She knew the student who killed his classmates. She remembers him in diapers, she said.
“I look at the student body (at EvCC) every day, and if it happens here, who would be next?” she said. “We should be able to feel safe.”
Morrison, one of the Marysville Pilchuck seniors, said she wants people to understand she’s not fighting to outlaw all guns. Her message is about limiting access and increasing safety, she said.
Watson, 17, is done waiting for action, she said by text message. Survivors of gun violence have authority and a duty to speak out, she said.
“The young generation that is coming up is so powerful,” Morrison said. “We can make a difference. We could make a difference Saturday.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.
Find a march
For locations, times and other information about the marches and rallies, go to marchforourlives.com.