What started as a small English class marching in solidarity against gun violence snowballed into a campus-wide event that collected hundreds of students on its way to the West Campus Turnaround at Cal State Long Beach.
To honor the 17 lives lost in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida last month, 17 minutes were dedicated by students and teachers around the nation.
The university was one of 3,000 schools to participate in National Walkout Day, in which thousands of students nationwide stood up and left their desks to prompt legislators to enact stricter gun laws.
Over 200 participants gathered across CSULB’s campus as students of part-time English lecturer Jamie Buehler led the demonstration.
“I’m a little disappointed that our school hadn’t already organized something,” Buehler said. “So we didn’t have a plan; we just walked around and where we saw people we walked through and invited them.”
Cal State Long Beach was not the only school in Long Beach to participate in the walkout. Over 2,000 students at Millikan High School in East Long Beach walked out, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia appeared at Marshall Middle School in support of student protest.
The walk ended at the BE????CH sign near the West Campus Turnaround where one student climbed the installment with a sign that read: “Do you care more about your guns than our lives?” Students chanted their support for stronger gun laws for a few minutes at the turnaround before dispersing.
As students and professors marched through the upper quad, fourth year political science major Ethan Scenters-Zapico followed in the rear with his sprained ankle resting on a knee walker.
“I decided to still come and participate, even if it’s more difficult,” Scenters-Zapico said.
Along with hundreds of other picketers, Scenters-Zapico ditched his communications class to fight for stricter gun control. Despite an upcoming quiz, he told his professor he planned to leave at 10 a.m.
“I decided [that] in the future I’m not going to look back and ever regret doing something like this,” Scenters-Zapico said. “I think that if I didn’t do it I definitely would regret it.”
The march was originally organized and promoted on Facebook by the students of Stoneman Douglas High who have stepped into the limelight since the attack.
Kiara Machado, a fourth year majoring in drawing and painting, walked out of her painting class with a friend to join the protest. She heard about the walk through posters and social media and was comforted to see other students show up.
Third year theater major Caroline Xique was in her advanced acting class when her professors said they were going to join the march. She decided to participate when professors invited students to leave with them.
“We came out of the classrooms and there were a couple people, but when we saw the march coming out we all decided to jump in,” Xique said. “I’m really glad to see how many people were outside. They weren’t just staying silent in their classrooms.”
March for Our Lives, a protest organized by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, will take place nationwide Saturday, March 24. Long Beach residents can take part at the rally held at 10 a.m. at Bixby Park.
“Show up and vote, and don’t be afraid to make your voice heard, ” Buehler said. “We’re on the verge of making something big happen.”