Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in Washington, D.C., and other communities around the world on Saturday to protest gun violence, and several Lompoc residents are encouraging locals to join them in the demonstration.
The Lompoc portion of the “March For Our Lives” rally will take place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of H Street and Ocean Avenue. The event is part of a nationwide effort spearheaded by survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
“Not one more,” reads a portion of the event’s mission statement at MarchForOurLives.com. “We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”
All Lompoc community members are invited to take part in the march. The local event will be preceded by a sign-making workshop from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lompoc Valley Democratic Club office at 104 South H St.
Organizers warn that signs on sticks or poles are not allowed and ask that all signs be appropriate for the general public. Anyone planning to attend can sign up at MarchForOurLives.com or just show up. Anyone who wishes to speak is encouraged to show up early and let organizers know prior to the march.
Among the speakers already lined up for the Lompoc march, according to organizers, are Mayor Bob Lingl, Pastor Geoff Moran, 35th Assembly District candidate Bill Ostrander, and several local students.
The main march will take place in Washington, D.C., on Saturday at 10 a.m. local time. As of Tuesday afternoon, so-called sibling marches were planned in 827 other communities around the world.
Other Central Coast cities that are scheduled to host registered marches Saturday include Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
The Parkland, Florida, teenagers who organized the national event have received significant support — both financial and vocal — from several celebrity backers. According to MarchForOurLives.com, the march was “created by, inspired by, and led by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar.”
The website notes in its mission statement that the event is nonpartisan.
“School safety is not a political issue,” it reads. “There cannot be two sides to doing everything in our power to ensure the lives and futures of children who are at risk of dying when they should be learning, playing, and growing. The mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues."
The event will take place less than two weeks after National Walkout Day, another campaign that was led by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That demonstration was held March 14, the one-month anniversary of the Florida school shooting, and involved thousands of students around the country walking out of class that morning to reflect on school shootings and call for stricter gun controls.
Students from Lompoc and Cabrillo high schools, as well as Lompoc Valley Middle School, participated in the walkouts.
Another national school walkout event is reportedly being planned for April 20, which will mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
Anyone who would like to donate to the March For Our Lives cause can do so at MarchForOurLives.com. Merchandise is also available for purchase at the website with all profits set to go toward Saturday’s march in Washington, D.C., according to the website.