Long Beach joined the nation in the March for Our Lives event Saturday, as thousands gathered in Bixby Park to rally against gun violence.
The national protest was inspired by the Parkland, Florida shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, one of many mass shootings over the last few years. The city’s participation was one of 845 sibling rallies around the country, with Washington D.C. having the largest turnout of 200,000 people.
Trevor Schnack, a 17-year-old high school student at the Academy of Math and Science, organized the event with the help of other students all over the city.
“It all started on Facebook,” Schnack said. “It’s really just a bunch of kids that started this.”
According to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s Twitter post, there were approximately 5,000 in attendance.
The march began in the park and traveled up the promenade, circling back three miles to return to the park. Police assisted in directing traffic as hoards of people, signs in hand, swarmed the streets. Eventually, crowds made two lines on either sides of the street, filling all the way to the promenade.
Before the crowd made its way downtown, a series of emotional speeches were delivered by students, Mayor Garcia, Los Angeles District 4 Supervisor Janice Hahn, District 3 councilwoman Suzie Price and Long Beach Unified School District President, Megan Kerr.
Kicking off the event was Isaiah Walker, a gospel director and teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School, who sang a series of songs about change, prompting synchronized claps and a singalong from the crowd.
Schnack addressed the crowd shortly after, to deliver a speech that earned screams and raised fists from the audience.
“There’s too strong a correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths,” Schnack said into the microphone.
By the time Mayor Garcia took the podium, the crowd had nearly doubled.
“We are so sorry for putting you in this position,” Garcia said. “But we are going to do everything that we can to support you.”
Next, Montserrate Pineda, a 17-year-old Mcbride High School student, took the microphone to deliver the loudest and audibly emotional speech of the day.
“Listen here, take in this second, this minute, this moment because this will stay in history,” Pineda boomed. “And we will never again have another school shooting.”
Price took the stage next, joking that Pineda would be a tough act to follow. She said her 18-year background in the field taught her that “no human being needs the types of guns that are out there. ”
She voiced her advocacy for gun control despite a background in law enforcement.
“We have kids who are bullied, we have kids who feel scared, they don’t have the judgement that adults have,” Price said. “They have access to things to things they should not have and that is a deadly combination.”
Price also mentioned the various threats that local high schools have endured within the last month in Long Beach.
When Supervisor Hahn spoke, she told the audience that Los Angeles would be bringing “historic” changes to the way citizens could attain firearms.
The speeches concluded with a poem by Tia Shackernoff, a student in the eighth grade.
“Now our learning includes googling, how to survive a mass shooting,” Shackernoff said.