It was a lesson in democracy for the dozens of demonstrators who turned out Saturday, March 24, to participate in the March for Our Lives in Frankfort.
The march, organized by Southwest Suburban Activists, was attended by many local students and community members, looking for further legislative change after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
On this day, hundreds of similar type events were held all across the nation, according to the March for Our Lives website. The main march took place in Washington, D.C.
On March 14, students at several local high schools participated in the National Student Walkout, a demonstration meant to honor lives lost in the mass shooting that occurred in February.
The event brought in a number of different people, including mothers, residents, elected officials and students. The demonstration featured a rally and a march in between live musical performances.
“As I stand, here, with all of you amazing kids, I am blown away everyday by all of their commitment, by all their hard work, and by their amazing words and performances today,” said Emily Biegel, a director for Southwest Suburban Activists. “If we cannot honor their voices and also the lives that have been lost to gun violence, then who are we? Who are we?”
University Park resident Tyler Mitchell was motivated to make his voice heard during the rally.
“I lost my dad when I was eight-years old, and I experienced gun violence with friends in the community,” he said. “It was a party at a nightclub, and he was out with friends. A fight broke out at the nightclub. A man came out the club. My dad was breaking up the fight, and the man shot my dad.”
Mitchell said being involved the march means a lot to him, sharing his story and letting other people into his life.
The demonstration took place without incident, though some people had differing views on the debate about the nuances of possible change in gun legislation.
Frankfort Square resident Claire Smith, 17, said seeing the show of support was nice.
“I have friends who have had bad experiences with [gun violence,]” she said. “It’s just important to me because it affects everyone.”
Smith said the turnout surpassed her expectations.
“It was a pleasant surprise—you get to see all sorts of different people,” she said. “I’m surprised to see a lot of older people, especially [in] Frankfort where it’s more Republican. You’d expect these people to be for the right or against gun [law reform.] It surpassed politics, it’s about humans and people.”
New Lenox resident Nikolena Kostowski, 15, said she is glad she decided to come out for the demonstration.
“I was really proud to see everybody,” she said.
Biegel took time to thank everyone for coming out to the demonstration.
“I love seeing all of the students and having their voices heard,” she said. “You will be heard. We are here to amplify your voice and to make sure that what you want, which is a safe learning environment, happens.”