March For Our Lives Draws Thousands in Detroit

Drew Howard
By | 2018-03-29T11:03:05+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Michigan, News|

Students, politicians, and second-hand victims of gun violence voiced their support for comprehensive gun legislation at the Detroit March For Our Lives on Saturday.
Detroit was one of an estimated 800 cities worldwide to host the March For Our Lives, a student-led protest calling for tighter gun laws following the Parkland, Florida, school massacre that left 17 dead. The march along Detroit’s riverfront concluded with a speaking engagement emceed by student organizers.
A student from Fraser’s Arts Academy in the Woods was one of the first to speak during the 90-minute session. In her speech, she shared the story of an anonymous friend threatened with gun violence after organizing a school educational event on the transgender community.
The anonymous individual sent a prepared speech detailing the aftermath of the threat. It read:
“I was sick to my stomach, I was jumping at every little noise and I wasn’t acting like myself. People who were supposed to perform were scared that if they did they were going to get shot. The person who made the threat got a five-day suspension, and that was the bulk of his punishment.
“I never get over that feeling of fear. After every school shooting I revert back to being scared, but this time I’m done being scared. No one should have a weapon of mass murder at their disposal. We have no need for AR-15s, and we shouldn’t have to worry about walking in a school that I love.”
Gun violence has also taken a toll on Daryl Harris, a member of the community-based group Ceasefire Detroit devoted to fighting norms about violence. At the podium, Harris was quick to note that gun violence can happen to anyone, and not just the so-called “thugs” in the street.
“I’d be remiss to not talk about how it’s impacted my own life,” Harris said. “Not only my baby brother who was shot in the head and killed, but also my wife who some years ago was held at gunpoint in my own home and brutally raped in my own home as a result of this.”
“Every time I look at my daughter I have to be concerned about whether somebody who got a pass, just because they had a legal ID to go and buy weaponry, can go and do harm to my daughter, to my son, to my wife and to my friends.”
Harris also addressed gun violence against police officers both on and off duty, citing statistics which claim that “over 135 police officers across the country were killed with senseless gun violence” in 2016. He added that “over 100 officers were shot and killed in 2017,” 46 of whom were on duty when it happened.
State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) spoke through tears as she addressed the crowd, promising gatherers that she would put words into action.
“We’ve had enough, whether it’s a school shooting or the killing of people of color by our law enforcement,” Chang said. “As state representative, I’m proud to introduce and support gun violence prevention legislation. Whether it’s universal background checks or extreme risk protection order bills, we’re working hard for you.”
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) echoed similar comments to Chang, promising the crowd that she would support universal background checks and stand against arming teachers with guns.
Student organizer Harry Susalla warned Stabenow on stage that the youth will be watching to see if she acts on her promises.
“Senator Stabenow, if you or any other politician does not fight for common sense gun legislation this November you will be out of a job,” Susalla said. “That’s because the youth are in charge. To quote my good friend and fellow organizer Amina, ‘This is not a threat. This is a promise.’”
Organizers of the Detroit March For Our Lives will continue their fight for reformed gun legislation well past Saturday’s protest. Those interested in being updated on future protests, rallies and events can fill out this form or go “like” the official March For Our Lives Facebook page.

About the Author:

Drew Howard
Drew Howard graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2017 with a B.S. in multimedia journalism. His work has been featured in Gazette Media, Forbes, LearnVest and NPR station WDET 101.9.