National March For Our Lives Campaign reaches Selma

Published 9:24 pm Saturday, March 24, 2018

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of people joined in the March For Our Lives protest to demand gun control. In Washington, D.C., survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, gave passionate speeches to demand that politicians take action to address gun violence.

The movement, though not as large as the mass crowds in D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles, drew concerned parents, activists and children to the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday morning to speak out against gun violence.

Local activist Faya Toure led a group of men, women and children in anti-gun violence chants on Water Avenue in front of the Songs of Selma park.

Email newsletter signup

“I see this as people standing up in a collective voice telling our local, state and federal government that enough is enough,” Toure said. “How many more children have to die?”

Students from Camp F.A.M.E (Fostering the Arts to Motivate Excellence) brought their hand-written letters for the victims and survivors of the school shooting in Florida.

“March for safety! March for freedom,” the students shouted. “No guns!”

They spoke to the people who came to join the movement about non-violence and keeping guns out of schools.

“Every child big and small, we matter,” Azali Fortier wrote. “While we mourn, we still fight for what’s right and we fight for the lives lost.”

The March For our Lives movement is unique in that it’s being led by high school students who are demanding to be heard. That courage has inspired young people like Will Garrrahan, who was visiting Selma on a day trip with his family.

The ninth-grader from Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon, joined in with the chants for non-violence and calls for action to help protect kids in schools.

“I was outraged, but I was also fearful of what could happen at my school,” he said. “I was inspired that kids so young could go out and speak their minds for what they believe. I felt a sense that things are going to get better, because everyone from the youngest child to the oldest person is speaking out their opinions on how we need to make this change happen.”

Directly across from the March For Our Lives supporters stood two protesters with a different message.

David Blackmon, 57, and his eight-year old daughter Sarah Blackmon held up their signs in support of allowing teachers to carry firearms in classrooms.

David’s sign read “Your School Employment Policy Keeps Teachers From Protecting Kids.”

“Once that door is breached, you’re in a 30-by-30 concrete room,” David said. “The only thing they can do at that point is hide under a desk and beg not to die.”

Sarah Blackmon, 8, and her father David Blackmon stood across the street from the March For Our Lives movement and held up signs supporting arming teachers in schools. David home-schools Sarah, 8, and her sister Haley, 9.

David home-schools his two daughters Sarah and Haley, but he feels strongly that people who are legally permitted to carry a firearm shouldn’t have restrictions on where and when they can carry it.

“People that are lawfully able to carry can walk all the way up to the school door and have their rights in-tact,” he said.  “The school itself is putting people at risk by saying that the rights you had coming up to our door, you no longer have.”

David doesn’t think that teachers are properly equipped to handle active shooter situations, and waiting on law enforcement to arrive gives the assailant more time to inflict damage.

“Our teachers deserve more than a no. 2 pencil to be fighting somebody coming in,” he said. “There are alternatives to removing all the guns. These people across [the street] are advocating for our rights to be removed. We want to make sure our students are protected.”

Selma City Councilman Samuel Randolph, who came to Water Avenue in support of the March For Our Lives movement, believes that school security needs to be improved to address the gun violence problem.

“I’m participating because the young people are out here protesting guns, and I felt like they needed some moral support,” he said. “I think we need more law enforcement at our schools. I would prefer that over teachers with guns.”

Protestors have continued to build momentum since the tragic shooting at MSD this past February. Earlier this month students at local high schools participated in the National Walk Out Day.

The movement in Selma didn’t include a march or last all day. Protestors on both sides of Water Avenue made their voices heard for little more than an hour. The small gathering dispersed a few people at a time. Some of the March For Our Lives activists even crossed the street to have a conversation with David about their differences.

The corners were clear by 12:30 p.m., but more importantly, the MSD survivors succeeded in spreading awareness and encouraging people to make their voices heard.