Hundreds Support March for Our Lives in Waimea
For some Hawai’i students, sending hopes and prayers to the students and families affected by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was not enough.
“Our generation needs to make this change, and we need to make it now,” said Riley Herendeen, a senior at Parker School in Waimea on Hawai‘i Island.
After being inspired by March For Our Lives for gun control in Washington and around the U.S., Herendeen and other seniors at the school—Kawena Ching, Lucy Callendar and Mathias Magliorini—organized a march in Waimea.
She created a Facebook page, March For Our Lives Waimea, which got noticed by North Hawaii Action Network, a group of Hawai‘i Island community members committed to protecting human rights, civil liberties, equality, and the health of the planet.
NHAN offered support, helping to get the word out about the march, and urging all community members to join them in the fight for gun control.
“This is not about guns; this is about our lives,” Herendeen said.
Amid rain and flash flood warnings, over 400 people of all ages joined the student-led march at Church Row to the east of the center of town on Saturday morning, March 24, 2018, clad in all manner of rain gear, carrying signs and chanting.
The march was to begin at 10 a.m., but it was apparent that marchers had begun congregating much earlier.
Once the procession began, a line of marchers stretched from the starting point to the end at Parker School—a distance of about .75 miles.
The march concluded in a rally with speeches from the front porch of Parker School.
The sound system wasn’t effective, and combined with the sound of the rain, there were several calls of “louder!” before the volume was raised.
“The problem we face today will not cease to be a common one if there is no call for increased legislation,” Kealakehe Senior Zoe Vann said, addressing the crowd. “We are here today to force the government to acknowledge us.”
“The students killed at Parkland were bright, young students just like the ones on this island,” Vann continued. “They were victims of poor regulation on the part of our government.”
In her speech, she also said that pro-gun rights and pro-gun control aren’t mutually exclusive.
Vann finished by urging people to not just march, but to march with purpose and call congressmen and legislators.
“It’s time we stop praying for change and start making it,” she concluded.
In addition to Herendeen, speakers included were Maia G, a senior at Kealakehe; Aislynn Carol, a senior at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy; Hunter Kalahiki, a sophomore at Parker School; Elia Groode, a freshman at Parker; and Emily Fetsch, a junior at Parker.
Hawai‘i County Councilman Tim Richards (District 9: North and South Kohala) was also in attendance.
“I can’t understand the people who demonstrate in opposition to this!” he said.