Benicia High School videographers Iris Sampayo and Chris Weldon put together this moving and powerful 2-minute documentation of the Benicia March For Our Lives. I’m so glad they captured the song, “Shine,” originally created by the Parkland High School Drama Club, and sung here by Dahlia Elgonemy, Ameera Elgonemy, LaPaula Parker, and Gabby Campitelli on guitar.
[Editor: I have heard many expressions of profound appreciation following Benicia Poet Laureate Johanna Ely’s reading of “I am Tired of Waking Up to the Faces of Dead Children.” Here it is. Get a box of tissues, and live through the detailed reality of automated assault on children in our communities. Text is below, and here is Johanna reading the poem on a Benicia Herald Youtube video. – RS]
I am Tired of Waking Up to the Faces of Dead Children
By Johanna Ely, Benicia Poet Laureate, March 16, 2018
I am tired of waking up
to the faces of dead children
who smile at me
from the T.V. or computer screen.
I want to tell them they are not dead.
I want to reach down
into the earth
into the ashes
and resurrect them—
pull them up by their bones
and hug them to my chest.
I want to wake them up
and reassure them that
they are only having a nightmare,
that the goul with the gun isn’t real.
I want to check their homework
and make them breakfast,
send them off into sunlight—
tell them I will see them
when they return home.
I want their backpacks flung on the couch
and the kitchen table—
their lives beginning again
with every breath.
I am tired of waiting for gun laws to change.
I am tired of imagining blood on my hands,
these children dying in my arms.
I am tired of hearing their awful silence
explode in my ears.
I am tired of trying to remember
how many there are now—
how every morning
they look at me
and just keep smiling.
Marches have been rare throughout Benicia’s history. Mayor Elizabeth Patterson claimed the last one was held in the World War II era. However, that changed when 800 to 1,500 people filled the streets of downtown Benicia for the March for our Lives.
Like the thousands of other Marches for Our Lives events held throughout the world in response to the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. people from all over Solano County gathered in Benicia to call for tighter gun control laws and protest gun violence.
The march began around 10 a.m. at the bottom of the First Street. Students of all ages lead the march downtown. Those on the sidewalks could hear such chants at “No more silence, end gun violence,” “Spread love, not hate. We just want to graduate” and “Never again” filling the air. The march ended at the gazebo in City Park where the speech portion of the rally was to begin.
Vice Mayor Steve Young Young began by reading the names of the victims of the Parkland shooting and asking for a moment of silence. He then turned the microphone over to Benicia High School senior Shawna Williams.
“It terrifies me that I can go and buy any gun I want,” Williams said. ” What 18-year-old needs a gun, let alone a weapon of war. We’ve seen what semi-automatic weapons can do, so why are they still being sold? Is it because the NRA needs money? I wish the answer was no, but the NRA has been clear that their right to bear arms outweighs our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Continue reading Benicia Herald: March for Our Lives draws hundreds in Benicia→
Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald [Editor: Alan Zada reported that the Benicia Police Department estimated the crowd at 1500. I’ve added a few of my own photos here. For more great photos, go to Larnie Fox’s Facebook page. – RS]
Benicia teens lead march of about 800: ‘We will vote’
By Richard Freedman, 03/24/18
Benicia is known for its numerous parades. Protest marches? Not as much. Until Saturday.
Around 800 residents braved an early morning chill led by students with a NEVER AGAIN banner, getting a jump on the national March for Our Lives with a walk up First Street and speeches at the City Park gazebo.
“Brave students have come together to say ‘enough is enough,’” said Assemblyman Tim Grayson, adding that he appeared in Benicia not as a politician, but as the father of a 16-year-old.
“A parent shouldn’t have to wonder if a child is going to be safe at school,” Grayson said.
“Today we are together, tomorrow we are together and we will still be together until we end gun violence,” proclaimed Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, calling for “a ban of weapons of war on our streets.”
Shannon Sweeney, 17, Benicia Senior Class president and one of the event coordinators, smiled at the turnout of the peaceful march.
“I’ve learned what it’s like to come together with a lot of people to make change,” she said. “It’s nice to see all these people showing up to protect our students and everyone from gun violence.” Continue reading Benicia March For Our Lives→