Winona marches for our lives

Student+activists+lead+the+way+from+Winona+Senior+High+School+on+Saturday%2C+March+24%2C+kickstarting+Winona%E2%80%99s+March+For+Our+Lives+protest.+Between+400-500+people+of+all+ages+came+together+to+march+for+more+comprehensive+gun+laws+in+the+wake+of+the+Parkland+shooting.++

Nicole Girgen

Student activists lead the way from Winona Senior High School on Saturday, March 24, kickstarting Winona’s March For Our Lives protest. Between 400-500 people of all ages came together to march for more comprehensive gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

Erin Jones, News Reporter

Students and members of the Winona community participated in the March for Our Lives rally Saturday afternoon to end school shootings and fight for stricter gun regulation. 

Participants marched from Winona Senior High school, along Sarnia Street, until they reached Winona Lake Park Bandshell.

According to Jerry Windley-Daost, one of the rally’s coordinators, the event’s turnout was better than expected.

“Between 400 and 500 people attended the Winona March for Our Lives.” Windley-Daost said.

Winona high school students junior, Tova Strange, and sophomore Skye Schultz, who both gave speeches at the rally, were also shocked by the turnout.

“I was expecting around 300,” Schultz said. “So I was really happy with the turnout.”

Strange, who also helped organize the march and rally, also commented on the rally turnout.

“It went awesome,” Strange said. “Way better than we ever thought.”

Strange added that a lot of preparation and planning went into Winona’s March for Our Lives rally.

In addition, she stated that additional planning had to be done for the students and community members who attended the march in St. Paul, Minnesota.

For the students and community members who attended in St. Paul, Strange said that no one would have been able to go if it were not for support from the community.

“One of my teachers and a bunch of community members came together and fundraised for themselves,” Strange said. “We got two buses and for students to go it was only $5 and $20 for adults.”

Schultz also commented on the community’s support for these students.

“It was amazing,” Schultz said. “We would not have been able to pull off any of the things we did without the community.”

Windely-Daost said that in addition to the community members who helped students travel to the St. Paul march, a lot of people rallied to help him organize the Winona march.

“I don’t even know how many people,” Windley-Daost said, “I think we pulled an email list of about 23 people who contributed in different ways.”

Despite the busy day at the Capitol, Strange, Schultz, and a few of their fellow classmates managed to attend and give speeches at the Winona march as well.

After arriving back to Winona at 12:45 p.m., Strange and Schultz began preparing for their rally speeches.

“At the march, I wanted to merge two ideas,” Strange said her speech. “The ideas of solidarity and standing with the students of Parkland and for all victims of gun violence and also talking about reform itself.”

Strange added that people often forget that victims of gun violence are human lives being lost, not just statistics to be added to the pile.

“These people are no different than us and people don’t seem to understand the severity of this issue and that we’re killing each other,” Strange said.

Schultz also elaborated on the speech she gave at the rally.

“I wanted it to be more of a unity speech about bringing both sides of an issue together, even if they aren’t ever going to agree, especially with this kind of issue because it really gets people right to the heart,” Schultz said.

Schultz also added that part of the goal of her speech was to look forward into the future, especially the students who are going to have to deal with the issue of gun violence in the long run.

“Other people aren’t going to be as affected as much because they’re going to be moving out of the political sphere and we’re going to be getting into it for a really long time.” Schultz said.

Though they both gave different speeches, both ladies agreed that they hope the marches in St. Paul and Winona raise awareness around the issue of gun control.

“I think that most people think the march is supposed to push gun control,” Strange said, “But that’s not really the point of those marches at all.”

She stated that the goal of March for Our Lives is simply about starting a conversation around an issue that affects everyone.

“What we want to accomplish overall is to get people to vote and to change laws and to acknowledge the issues that are present in front of us,” Strange said.

Schultz agreed with Strange and hopes that by attending lobby day in Winona, she can have conversations with lawmakers to make a change.

“On lobby day, we’re going to try and get students and the community out there because I think it’s really important to have the one-on-one conversations with lawmakers to show them that people care,” Schultz said.

Though the students and the community have made a great impact already by organizing the Winona March for Our Lives rally, there is still a lot of work to be done.

“This is going to be a marathon, definitely not a sprint,” Strange said of ending gun violence and creating stricter gun regulation. “It takes time, a lot of time.”

Despite this, the students from Winona Senior High School remain positive, especially since the turnout of the Winona rally was better than expected.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Strange said. “I feel like our actions on Saturday spoke louder than the hateful words of those who disagree with us.”