Recap: Denton March for Our Lives
Denton, among hundreds of sibling marches, participated in the nationwide demonstration "March for Our Lives" this past Saturday, March 24. The protest which included several speakers in front of the Courthouse, was meant to show solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting on Feb. 14 and push for stricter gun laws.
Parker Hicks took the initiative to organize the event when he saw no one had. A preset lineup of students, teachers and political candidates spoke along with last minute student add-ins who shared their thoughts on the topic at hand.
After the national anthem and a prayer, the speakers began.
Several students and teachers from Denton I.S.D. expressed their disdain with the current state of politics, gun violence, being known as generation "Columbine" and the arming of teachers.
Correction to the tweet above: Aleksandr Farwell, student at TWU not UNT.
"This is not the type of hero we signed up to be," said Julie Mulvanny, a teacher at Lee Elementary.
As a unit, four Guyer High School students told the crowd they "speak for those whose lives were cut short and march for those who don't have the ability to march anymore." They said on April 20, the 19th anniversery of the Columbine shooting, they planned to have a walkout from their school.
One of the students, Caleb Brock, spoke not only about school mass shootings, but the other spheres gun violence occurs at.
"For too long congress has ignored the wishes of the people," Brock said. "They ignored the deaths of 20 kids and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, the 49 deaths at the Pulse Nightclub and they continue to ignore the 96 people who die per day due to guns which are disproportionately black youth."
Legal Advocate Janata Montgomery "Queen J" said she was sad to see not lot of people of color at the event. She said she supports everyone of every race then asked that white people support her people now.
Sydnie Acker, student body president of Denton High School, expressed her confusion with how easy it is to get a gun compared to driving a boat, as in Texas you need to attend a mandatory boater safety class.
"Hypothetically, you're telling me I can't go to Lake Lewisville and drive a boat, but I can walk into Academy at Rayzor Ranch and buy a gun with zero knowledge about them?" Acker said. "That is not only ridiculous, it is illogical in every concievable way."
Many running for local office took the the mic to discuss what needed to be done in the political sphere and how to get it done. Among the candidates who spoke were Andrew Morris and Mat Pruneda, who are currently in a run-off for seat 64 of the Texas House of Representatives, Diana Leggett, who just won the Democratic primary for County Judge, Keri Anne Caruthers running for Justice of the Peace Precint 1, Alfredo Sanchez running for the Denton School Board and Neil Durance who is running for mayor.
Durance called on the crowd to vote local because when there is crisis the first place people call are their local police department.
Many of the political candidates emphasized the importantce of voting to which the crowd would follow up with "vote them out!" chants.
While most of the political candiates were Democrats, mother and veteran Paige Dixon said this issue should be united.
"Gun reform is not a red issue or blue issue, my team versus your team issue," Dixon said. "Folks, that is an everybody issue."
Once the speakers finished, the crowd marched around the Courthouse to mark the end of a demonstration which brought hundreds of people to the square in solidarity with the victims and in support of gun reform.
The full list of the speakers, provided by Parker Hicks, are as follows:
Rakan Aouadi, Age 11, Hawk Elementary School
Maya Thakur, Student
Andrew Morris, Candidate for House District 64
Mat Pruneda, Candidate for House District 64
Diana Leggett, Paralegal with Durand Law
Keri Anne Caruthers, Candidate for Justice of the Peace
Neil Durrance, Candidate for Denton Mayor
Diamond Hugh, Student, Denton High School
Zoe, Caleb, and Gillian, students at Guyer HS organizining a walkout
Sydnie Acker, Student and DHS Student Body President
Trinity Trout, Student
Paige Dixon, Mother/Veteran
Aleksandr Farwell Student, TWU
Julie Mulvanny, Teacher
Rebecca Boardman, Mother
Evan O’Dwyer, Student at UNT
Caitlyn Aenis, Student, Age 15, Marcus High School
Alfredo Sanchez, Candidate for Denton School Board
Michael Czyz, Activist
Queen J, Legal Advocate
Marie Beltran, Student
Sophie Moore, Student
Phyllis Wolpert, Denton County Democratic Party Chair
Lauren Moore, Student
Header image by Tori Falcon.
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados