On March 24 over 7,000 people gathered in Mitchell Park in support support of common sense gun law reform and school safety. We had the honor to listen to inspiring, tragic, powerful speeches by local students from all around the County. You can read the words of the students who spoke at the rally here. For me, this moment from Rosella Apel, a senior at Nipomo High School, captured the somber but resolute tone of the day:
The gun violence epidemic which has overtaken our country is a product of a culture which is, in part, complicit with violence. It does a disservice to our family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors who have perished at the hands of misused firearms to focus on only one facet of the issue. It is so much easier to ignore the fact that the systems we have in place do little to teach people that no matter how deep the pain they experience, violence is not the solution. The transformation that will be necessary to soften our societal bent towards brutality must come from all sides. We, as activists and people who care deeply about the sanctity of life, must protect it, not only through laws but through behavior and action. Cesar Chavez once said that in some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence. In effect, we must want peace and safety just as much as others want to guard against infringements on their freedoms. If we can show that violence is not OK in our schools because it is not OK in our streets or our prisons, not OK in our international relationships or our personal interactions with one another, we begin to challenge that widespread societal apathy towards something inherently devoid of morality, the act of taking of another human’s life.
Below are some images I took at the rally in Mitchell Park and along the march through downtown San Luis Obispo.