More than 80 people – many of them Macomb High School students -- braved the cold, blustery, and rainy conditions Saturday morning to demonstrate as part of the national March for Our Lives movement. The local protest was organized by students. They're calling for political action to end gun violence and mass shootings in schools and society.
The demonstrators met outside the McDonough County courthouse, marched around the courthouse square, then moved indoors to the banquet room at the Old Dairy restaurant for speeches and to fill out postcards. The postcards will be sent to their state and federal lawmakers, urging them to enact tougher gun control laws.
MHS senior Leah Jorgensen repeatedly wrote “I am your constituent” on her postcard.
“It’s attention grabbing to write ‘I am your constituent’ so many times because this country is made so that the politicians will listen to us and not the other way around. And I think that sometimes it’s important that they remember that,” Jorgensen said.
Retired Western Illinois University professor Martha Klems apologized to students because her generation failed to address the issue of gun violence. She said she was thrilled to see young people coming out and taking charge.
“I can’t tell you how afraid the politicians will be if all of you start voting and speaking out and taking an interest in this issue. It will scare them to death,” Klems said.
And she reminded everyone there is an election in November.
MHS junior Maya Stovall helped organize the demonstration. She said she’s too young to vote but she hoped politicians will listen to her.
“I‘m worth protecting. They’re not in education. They don’t know the experience of being in schools. So somebody has to speak for how it is to be in high school,” Stovall said.
MHS senior Emily Burchett also helped organize the rally through the school’s Interact Club, which she said is lower level Rotary. Burchett, who is president of the club, said she wanted to make it known that Macomb cares.
“We’re part of this bigger movement that’s happening nationwide, even worldwide. And we want to provide a platform for individuals in our own community to share their voice,” Burchett said, adding the turnout was larger than she expected.
“I’m so grateful and proud that we’re doing this.”
The next step is to organize for the National Day of Action on April 20, which will be another effort to raise awareness and call for politicians to do something to prevent gun violence in schools.