UPDATED: 'March For Our Lives' Planned For Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Amelia Island
This Saturday on the First Coast and around the world students will take to the streets in a show of support for ending gun violence.
The "March For Our Lives" is being organized, in part, by the students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 14 students and three teachers last month.
Florida State College at Jacksonville Political Science Professor Daniel Cronrath will attend the demonstration in Washington with a group from Duval County.
As an educator, he’s inspired by the student-led movement to end mass shootings.
“In America we look back at the generation that’s coming behind us and we’re like, ‘Oh this generation, what are they going to amount to?’ I have a lot of optimism. I have a lot of hope for this generation, that we are producing a new generation of leaders," Cronrath said on WJCT's First Coast Connect this week.
Atlantic Coast High School student Adrena Forrest is one of the organizers of the Jacksonville "March for Our Lives," taking place at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hemming Park.
She said she first got involved after the Parkland shooting when she wrote a Facebook post expressing her feelings, and she's experienced quite a bit of pushback from gun-rights advocates in the process, and from people who accuse her and her peers of being puppeted by left-leaning political interests.
"I think that people believe that because we're so outspoken, because we have such big goals and aspirations, that it can't come from kids because we're just kids," she said. "They just assume that someone's making us do it or someone's forcing us to do it or we're being bribed or something like that, but that isn't the case at all."
She said some critics have told her she's not qualified to speak up because, at age 17, she's not old enough to own a gun or vote.
"I go to school, and schools are shot up all the time. I go to church, and churches have been shot up. I go to concerts, and concerts are getting shot up," she said. "The potential of being a victim I feel like is enough to give anyone a voice to speak up against gun violence. You don't have to own a gun."
The Jacksonville March for Our Lives will include speeches by Forrest and others, as well as musical performances and a voter drive, before participants march from Hemming Park to the Duval County Courthouse.
An event in Amelia Island will kick off at 9:45 a.m. at the Fernandina Harbor Marina, said organizer Christine-Anne Platel. That march will be attended by two current Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students and their parents, she said.
And the "March for Our Lives St. Augustine" will take place at 5 p.m. at the Bridge of Lions, with participants marching westward toward the Castillo de san Marcos for a rally on its lawn. Organizers are urging participants to use Uber or other ride services to attend instead of looking for parking because the area is usually bustling with tourists.