March for Our Lives

Oakland Student, 11, Among Organizers of Gun Control Marches Planned Saturday

'After hearing about the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, I knew I had to do something about it,' 11-year-old Alex Ibarra of Coliseum College Prep Academy said

March For Our Lives, a student-led movement to demand action on gun safety, returns to the Bay Area this Saturday with protests planned at several locations around the region and more than 450 nationwide.

The Oakland march at Oscar Grant Plaza/Frank Ogawa Plaza at 10 a.m. is being organized by a group of middle schoolers, including 11-year-old Alex Ibarra of Coliseum College Prep Academy.

"After hearing about the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, I knew I had to do something about it," Ibarra said. "Me and my friends planned a protest in Oakland to tell Congress to pass gun laws and stop innocent people from dying."

Ibarra and his friends reached out to March For Our Lives, a group founded by survivors from the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Four years ago, the group planned the first March For Our Lives, which more than 1.7 million people participated in, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization.

After spending the past four years registering youth voters and lobbying politicians for gun reform, the group is back organizing a march on the nation's capital and facilitating marches across the country Saturday.

"First, we reached out to March For Our Lives and they agreed to support us," Ibarra said. "Then we wrote to different city councilmembers in Oakland to plan the logistics of the protest."

The protest in Oakland will include speeches from students and survivors of gun violence about their experiences and how mass shootings have affected them and their communities. The gathering will also have letter writing for attendees to write to Congress demanding action and poster making booths. 

"Most importantly, we're all going to bring an extra pair of shoes with us to represent the victims of gun violence," Ibarra said, adding that he encourages students, parents, teachers, and other community members to come out and support the march.

"It will really strengthen our message and convey to Congress that we need change," he said.

Ibarra and his friends have joined forces with organizers in San Leandro for the march. They are also working closely with Oakland City Councilmember at-large and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and her staff.

"There have been 250 mass shootings in the United States in 2022, that is more mass shootings than days in the year so far. Since 2020 the highest mortality rates among youth have been due to gun violence," Kaplan said in a press release Thursday.

"I join our community, especially our youth leaders, in calling on Congress to take immediate action to impose common sense gun control laws, including universal background checks and controls on assault weapons. In a country where the Republican-controlled Court and Senate refuses to regulate guns but they seek to regulate uteruses, they have no right to call themselves pro-life," Kaplan said.

Other March For Our Lives protests are scheduled to take place Saturday in San Francisco, Mountain View, Redwood City, Walnut Creek, Benicia, Burlingame, Pacifica, and Sonoma.

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