By Olivia White Contributing Writer
UMF students, educators, and politicians showed their support for the Parkland school shooting by participating in marches held in both Farmington and Portland.
Kayla Suzanne, a student teacher at Mt. Blue Elementary, and Vanessa Brown, a student activist, both had the opportunity to be involved with the march in Farmington. Both had nothing but good things to say about the march.
“Overall, there was a positive and peaceful atmosphere,” said Brown. “Everyone wanted to make sure everyone else stayed safe.”
Suzanne participated in the Farmington March for Our Lives as a speaker, whose speech cried out for help from the government and society to “think about and remember our basic civil rights, which should never get in the way of us feeling safe in our schools, because every child deserves a chance!”
Suzanne says that this part of her speech means a tremendous amount “because of how many people came out to the march from all different generations and backgrounds.”
On the same day as the march in Farmington, Jeffrey Willey, President of the College Democrats, and Eliza Robinson, another student activist, participated in the march held in Portland, Maine. This march encompassed around five to eight thousand participants. These participants ranged from grade school children to college-aged and beyond. Willey described the march as a “lively environment.”
One of the most memorable events during the Portland march was a marine who gave a speech at the end of the march. Protesters cried during the marine’s speech when he used personal experience in the military to explain why he believed there should be a control on guns within the United States. Willey’s major takeaway from his speech was when the marine explained how he has “seen friends die.”
Robinson and Willey both acknowledged the constant chants being sung by students throughout the streets. Willey remembered one chant that rung out throughout the streets, “enough is enough.” Willey hopes these movements will continue to make an impact not only on students, but that they will make an impact on those who have the authority to change legislature.
Willey was surprised to see no one protesting the march. While Portland may not have had protestors, the March for Our Lives in Farmington had many. Brown said, “There were people who were protesting the march, and for the majority of the people who were there, we tried to focus more on the people that were speaking rather than focusing on the people.”
Willey acknowledged that some students may not have been able to participate in these events. Willey suggested that people who want to be involved in political change should call and write to their senators and representatives and vote for those who have a vision for change.
Senator Susan Collins:
68 Sewall Street Room 507
Augusta, Maine 04330
Senator Angus King:
4 Gabriel Drive Suite 3
Augusta, Maine 04330