Civil Conversations: Day 8, March for Our Lives Arkansas


March for Our Lives supporters converged on the Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Saturday, March 24, to demand action to stop school shootings. © 2018 Kailin Schumacher

Kailin Schumacher

“Enough is enough.” “Not one more.” “This is what democracy looks like.”

These are just a few of the messages and chants seen and heard as hundreds of thousands marched in unity across the nation on Saturday demanding an end to school shootings.

Nearly 1,000 students, teachers, parents and community members in Little Rock, Arkansas, flooded the Capitol steps during the March For Our Lives protest Saturday morning, March 24. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a shooter’s rampage took the lives of 17 students organized a march on Washington, D.C. Sister marches sprung up in response across the country, including Little Rock where student organizers led the protest in Little Rock.

Among the 100 students from the University of Wisconsin -Eau Claire  participating in the 10th-annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage, eight student journalists reported on the march.

Peaceful protesters held signs promoting gun control as hundreds of people marched two blocks to the Little Rock Capitol. Counter protesters made only a brief appearance at the rally which remained peaceful.

Peyton Greenwood, a 16-year-old from Greenbrier High School said she’s hoping politicians will finally pay attention.

“I’ve gone to school scared,” Greenwood said. “It just shouldn’t be as hard as it is for people to get an education.”

Lauren Oury, a college sophomore, said she was proud to march.

“There’s no point in sitting at home and liking things on Facebook if you don’t do anything with the information you have and you don’t take a stand to try and do something about it,” she said.

Another college student, Lexi Breton, didn’t want to miss the protest.

“As kids we’re trained to be the movement to start it so we can be the inspiration to the older generations who have once been in our shoes,” said Breton, an Arkansas State University sophomore.

On the Capitol steps, the crowd listened to eight speakers who rallied around gun regulation and encouraged everyone to vote for the change. The speakers consisted of a high school and college students, teachers and parents. Leader for the Arkansas Chapter for Moms Demand Action, Eve Jorgensen applauded students for raising their voices, and thanked the rest of the world for listening.

“We know ignoring our nation’s young people is unacceptable,” she said. “How many more school shootings have to happen before our leaders pass common sense gun laws?”

In the crowd a handful of community members protested the event. One man held a sign that read, “At fault FL school shooting: shooter, FBI, sheriff dept. Not the gun!”

Chants of  “peace not violence” erupted as the man made his way toward the front of the crowd and attempted to heckle one of the student speakers.

Arkansas Senator Linda Chesterfield  attended the speech. A former teacher, she sat on the steps of the Capitol applauding speakers.

“For me this march means hope. Hope for reasonableness. Hope for our children to be safe everyday at school,” she said. “This generation is going to change what we’ve been trying to change for so long.”