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Parkland survivors March For Their Lives in North Dakota

News | June 27th, 2018

Parkland students with Moorhead students, Emma Gonzalez in red hat - photograph by Logan Macrae

MOORHEAD - When the Parkland students arrived at Woodlawn park on Tuesday, they exited the bus full of fervor. Energized to insight change and spread a message. They grabbed balls and frisbees from the bus to celebrate their journey across the US, that will finally end in Bismarck on June 28.

Speaking on their touch with gun violence first hand, they had more expertise on the matter than most of our current politicians.

It was their youthful nature that inspires the spirit to move forward and search for a resolution for the toll that gun violence takes on American lives. While the tragedy at Parkland took recovering, the message that comes from the students of this Florida high school is: Keep moving and keep fighting, heedless of government policy of the polarization of the American political system.

One student openly spoke on the polarization of the media and the effects it has on our political process. This was a very enlightened opinion from a high school student, and just barely scratches the surface of the educational and demonstrative properties of tragedy.

The journey of these students wasn’t just emotionally tough, but the physical journey from state to state was wearing on the students as they arrived in Moorhead. One of the student Jammal Lemy explained how the stops in Wisconsin and Minnesota were the only times they had consistently stayed in a single region for more than a few days. They would make a stop and pack up keep moving, he was excited for the very truncated form of rest and relaxation.

Jammal Lemy - photograph by Logan Macrae

They had just experienced the Mall of America for the first time, and one of their initial reactions was, “Why does this place even exist!? This is capitalism in a box.”

The lack of negativity in today’s activities was refreshing. The scare tactics that are regularly provided in the gun control argument were not present; it was a time of remembrance, but also of hope.

The group Mothers Demand Action were present and distributed pamphlets about how their organization works. They were also looking for volunteers. You can find their website at http://everytown.org/moms/

The next move on the student’s journey is to Standing Rock, a place of protest we all know from the not so distant past. I discussed Trump’s visit tomorrow with one of the students. I asked Emma Gonzalez if she would go protest.

Students relaxing in Moorhead - photograph by Logan Macrae

“I love to protest, it’s the only time you can scream all day, and you don’t have to apologize for not having a voice the next day,” Gonzalez said. She was adorned with stick-on tattoos from her visit to Minneapolis pride weekend and was full of energy and motivation.

Robert Shimek, a member of the Red Lake community and a survivor of the Red Lake Shootings, discussed the history of violence in America, and how this country was founded on violence and built on it. He discussed the genocide of the Native Americans and the enslavement and genocide of black bodies.

Robert Shimek - photograph by Logan Macrae

Shimek then played and sang a tune on a Native American drum in the Indigenous language about a Native man that returned from the Vietnam War after serving and was killed in a VFW in South Dakota.

While the basis of the day’s event was built on tragedy, I felt open and joyful in the environment, but I could also feel fear. I realize this should not be the initially reaction to a celebration in the park, but without proper gun control in America today’s event could have been an open playground to a shooter.

I am hopeful in the years to come that a proper resolution to the gun control problem is found, and that we can celebrate our triumphs fearlessly in the years to come.

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