This morning I arose and immediately got ready to drive myself to Providence in order to get proximity parking to participate and photograph today’s March for Our Lives Rally at the State House. It was just yesterday that I sat with a friend over lunch saying just how despondent I was feeling as it seems that Politics negatively invades my life on a daily basis. I was feeling tired, down, and somewhat hopeless. The appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor completely unsettled me. Thanks to a good friend and open discussion I felt some relief after he explained that this appointment is proof that this administration and its political representatives are heading toward a cliff and their steadfast momentum will carry them over.
So today, armed with a more positive outlook I headed out for today’s rally. Hours before the rally was scheduled to start at 1 pm there was already a lone protester standing at the entrance of the brick walkway to the State House holding a sign that showed his outrage against the latest edict that transgendered persons cannot serve in the US Military.
Fast forward to finishing a cup of coffee at Small Point Cafe then heading back to the State House area, I met a friend who is a photographer for the ProJo. He invited me on a tour of the ProJo, which I accepted, before heading off together to the rally. Early on the crowd size was such that you knew this was going to be a sizeable rally. The State House stairs were filled with young men and women carrying their home-made signs while standing in orderly fashion doing what they came here to do, “protest.”
A few hours later the crowd size was “yuge”, orderly, and of mixed ages. One by one the speakers were introduced from high school to college students and unlike Washington, some politicians as well. The students and their words quickly begged total attention. Everyone was focused and attentive. The crowd was receiving an experience. One that takes you from being on the outside looking in to actually understanding the depth and breadth of the complex emotions that students, moms, dads, grandparents, and teachers are entangled with every day.
Young budding minds spoke of living with the aftermath of Sandy Hook, Umpqua Community College, Inland Regional Center, Episcopal Church in SC and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others. All spoke of growing up in an educational system that practiced evacuation due to a live shooter in their school. Some spoke of the repetitive drills where each time wondering if this is indeed a drill. Another spoke of their Spanish teacher speaking to the class on how fast they could move a bookcase over in front of the door instead of teaching the Spanish lesson. Others spoke of doors being locked after they enter. Students were told not to let anyone in who showed up at the door after class began, “even if you knew that person.”
I was aware, on some level, that this was the reality for all students in this era of school violence. However, hearing this from a 15-year-old made their daily school experience real for me. I could empathize. I understood in a way I did not understand before. I heard their words and they instilled in me a spirit of support for them and their mission. I knew then, along with them, I will endure till this job is done. I was never a single issue voter, however, I will vote democrat, republican and or independent for representatives who definitively support: (1) Universal Background Checks; (2) a ban on military style assault weapons; (3) a minimum age requirement in order to purchase a firearm and (4) a 30 day waiting period on the purchase of any legal weapon. These standards need to be universal, country-wide regulations that apply universally to every state, city, and town in this country. Period!
The following are some images of people and their messages from today. They are not for enjoyment, rather they are for you to experience. As one speaker declaimed: “If you are fearful of your leaders then that is tyranny. If your leaders are fearful of you, then that is called liberty.”