“This march is the beginning of a movement, a revolution to inspire others to join the many others across the nation fighting for an end to gun violence,” said Robert Jimenez, junior at Citrus Hill High School in Perris, California, one of the student organizers for the March for Our Lives Riverside protest march to end gun violence.
The march took place March 24, starting at the Riverside Historic Courthouse and traveled a little over a mile through downtown Riverside.
Jimenez was one the many high school students from the cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris and Corona who organized the march in correlation with the sister marches taking place around the country, the largest of which took place at the nation’s capital.
This movement and the marches themselves spurred specifically from the recent mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students and injured 17 more, making it one of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.
Survivors from Parkland participated in the March for Our Lives and were also featured on the cover of TIME magazine’s March issue.
Millions of people showed up to the more than 800 marches that were held across the globe, unifying the young voices of today in a public outcry to get Congress’ attention and fight for action in anti-gun violence legislation.
The Washington, D.C. march included performances and speeches by musicians including Miley Cyrus, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande and Lin-Manual Miranda. The public attention brought to the march was strong across all social media channels, utilizing the hashtags #NeverAgain and #WhatIf. Videos of the marches, speeches by students, performances and photos of the thousands of signs spreading messages of gun violence reform circled news platforms, public and personal media accounts alike.
The Riverside march featured many speakers similar to the D.C. location including Ellen Davis, CBU sophomore political science and international studies double major.
Davis is a survivor of the Vegas Massacre in Las Vegas where Stephen Paddock opened fire during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival Oct. 1, 2017 killing 58 people and injuring more than 500.
Davis said she tells her story because she wants people to understand what it is like to be on the receiving end of gun violence.
“I shouldn’t have to tell my story to convince people that we need common sense gun legislation but I will until we have it,” Davis said. “It was still hard to get up on stage but I knew that my speech was key to the march since I was the only one up there who had actually lived through the middle of the worst mass shooting in modern history.”
Jimenez said he was made aware of the reality of gun violence in the United States today when he was reading about historic gun violence occurrences but kept seeing the same issues arise all over again right before his eyes.
“Our community has gotten stronger,” Jimenez said. “Our students have put aside our differences and have united to fight for an end to gun
violence for all.”
There have been 13,969 incidents of gun violence in the past year resulting in 3,594 deaths and 6,279 injuries, according to the National Gun Violence Archive. Of those deaths, 672 of them have been teenagers (ages 12-17) and 57 of those incidents have been from mass shootings.
“The lack of change for such a serious issue that specifically (affects) my classmates and it pushed me to do everything I could to make sure I would make a change for myself and for everyone else that does not feel safe in school,” Jimenez said. “It’s important for students to understand that this is their time to fight for their safety because no one is going to do it for them.”
Both Davis and Jimenez stressed the importance of taking action to understand the issue of gun violence and make a stand now to make their
“The momentum of the movement is really strong at this point and the voter turnout for the upcoming midterms is going to be record-breaking,” Davis said. “These marches have brought so much more awareness to the issue of gun violence and domestic terrorism in our country.”
The March for Our Lives is specifically working to fund gun-violence research and gun-violence prevention and intervention programs, eliminate restrictions on The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, establish universal background checks for all who wish to purchase firearms, ban high-capacity magazines and limit firepower on the streets.
Those aligning themselves with the March for Our Lives are seeking to encourage all 18-year-olds to register to vote so they can vote legislators out of office who are not willing to adjust gun laws.
“It only took a few students to spark courage and hope in millions of others across the nation,” Jimenez said. “I will not give up until I feel our government is doing its job at protecting the safety of our students because we will be the ones fighting against this senseless killing.”