Chanting “Thank you youth,” more than 200 protesters gathered Saturday on Seawall Boulevard for an anti-violence rally dubbed “March for Our Lives.”
Organized by the Galveston Progressive Connection, the rally, running from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Fort Crockett Park on the beach side of Seawall Boulevard, was part of a nationwide demonstrations for gun control laws.
The crowd of protesters called for policy changes across the nation and held up various signs, including some that stated: “Thoughts and prayers are not enough!”
The rally was peaceful, although one participant, Kevin Moran, said about a dozen armed counter-demonstrators formed up across the street as the rally ended.
More than 800 March for Our Lives demonstrations were planned across the nation, sparked by the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, The Associated Press said.
The Galveston rally was created to let people voice their opinions in a collective display, event organizer Lyssa Graham said.
“We have been working on this for a couple of weeks,” she said. “You feel isolated sometimes if you see all the activity happening in big cities, but our island and small cities are impacted as well.”
Collaborating with residents and orchestrating a rally felt natural, event organizer Azure Bevington said.
“I’ve known Lyssa for a couple years and we have been involved in some other advocacy stuff,” she said. “We were really just talking about all these issues after the national movement.”
Just like any city, Galveston needs to be represented, Bevington said.
“There was always something going on in Houston but nothing that ever happened on the island,” she said. “We felt that people needed an opportunity to come together.”
The Parkland students woke the nation up and Galveston needed to be a part of that moment, Bevington said.
“We want people to see that there are people in this community that are really committed and people want stronger gun laws,” she said. “This movement is very unique in that it’s driven by these students who said they want to see change. We wanted to reach out to students and let students tell us what they wanted to see.”
Arming teachers is not a reasonable solution to the problem, Galveston resident Krystal Greer said.
“I’m going to school to be a teacher,” she said. “I don’t think guns belong in the hands of teachers. We should be giving them funding.”
Students from Ball High School also spoke at the rally.
“I’m a student and this worries me a lot,” Alondra Saucedo said. “We should share how secure our schools are in Galveston and share that with other communities. We are pretty safe.”
Events like this not only make a bold statement, but they allow people to come together, Graham said.
“The local part is very important,” she said. “It is really empowering to not feel alone in our community.”