[Editor: Many thanks to Benicia Herald editor Nick Sestanovich for the following 10 videos, recorded at the March For Our Lives rally at City Park on Saturday, March 24. Repost from The Benicia Herald. – RS]By Nick Sestanovich, March 25, 2018
[Editor: Local videographer Constance Beutel was on scene Saturday, documenting the historic March For our Lives and Rally in City Park. Below is a 10-minute short, followed by a 1-hour video that begins at the sign-making workshop at Arts Benicia on Wednesday.- Constance wrote, “Remembering the high school students killed in Parkland, Florida and so many others who have lost their lives to gun violence, we will add our voices….” – RS]
Here’s the 10-minute clip:
And here is the video taking you from the sign-making workshop to the march up First Street and speakers at the Rally.
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
Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
Vallejo youth plea for action, not more gun violence in ‘March for Our Lives’By Richard Freedman, 03/24/18
Yes, Sgt. Brent Garrick was armed. It’s required of the job. But in providing a “police presence” at Saturday’s “March for Our Lives” in Vallejo, the officer may as well have been packing a feather duster.
“This is very inspiring. There’s been no trouble at all,” Garrick said, surveying about 400 who finished the half-mile march. “Young adults seem to be so much more intelligent than my generation was. They’re aware of community, social events and things that affect us all.”
That, obviously, includes gun violence, with most of the young speakers in front of City Hall impacted directly or indirectly by guns.
While many of the nearly 850 cities involved nationwide in “March for Our Lives” offering elected officials as speakers, this was young-people-only at the microphone. And that was fine with Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan.
“This is outstanding,” Sampayan said of the turnout. “These people are the voices of not only our future but our present. I’m nothing but impressed.”
The day’s message, added the mayor, “is that people of this country are tired of violence. We need to come together as people and human beings to show we care for each other. This violence has to stop.”
The march began as the participants gathered just inside Harbor Way, with free beverages, protein bars and T-shirts distributed before the 1:30 p.m. start.
Mike Brown, walking solo, was happy to join the masses.
“It’s a powerful movement right now that I haven’t seen for a long, long time,” said the 63-year-old Brown. “I want to see it grow and I want to see the changes come. I couldn’t be more proud of these kids who are standing up and doing it.”
Brown hoped the march generated “some serious changes in the laws. There’s no reason for assault weapons.”
Barbara Gaea, a 24-year Vallejoan, said people “are so weary” of the gun violence.
“I think the outrage level is reaching the tipping point,” Gaea said “People can’t take the insanity any more. We don’t need weapons of mass destruction.”
Wisconsin-born Vallejoan Craig Gaines said he hopes action is taken soon because “kids need to be safe at school. There needs to be some control and deeper, stronger understanding of holding accountable those who we are going to issue guns to. We need to be more cautionary.”
Gaines said he hopes the national impact of the walk “wakes everyone up and lets everyone realize that our children are crying out. If you can’t go to school and be safe, where can you go other than being at home?”
While the youth takes over the reigns of the anti-gun violence movement, “we should support them,” Gaines said. “These are our leaders of the future.”
A long-time Vallejoan, Carlo Carlucci, 70, said he was compelled to march because of “anger and grief, losing our children on behalf of the egos of stupid people.”
Carlucci added that he’s grateful that “we have a new generation that is determined to lead us.”
At City Hall, the young people gave brief but passionate speeches, pleading for change.
“We need to take action and we need to save the ones we love,” said Isaiah Nickelberry, a John Finney High School student.
“We are all fighting for the same cause so our kids and our kids’ kids will have a better future,” Nickelberry said.
Bethel High Student Jenny Lee lamented “all the innocent lives lost” in Parkland and all the victims “who were the same age as me.”
“All our voices should be heard,” offered Arnaz Hall, another Bethel student, saddened that every day at school, “I have to think, ‘Am I going to make it home?’”
“Our president should stop worrying about immigrants trying to cross the border when there’s Americans killing each other,” added Hall.
An American Canyon High School student, “Natalie,” mourned the loss of her cousin, Eric Reyes, shot and killed in 2016 and namesake of the Eric Reyes Foundation.
“A life taken by teenagers who had guns who took a big part of me away,” Natalie said. “I miss him. I miss his smile. Someone took an innocent person’s life. I’ve had enough of this. We have seen enough senseless gun violence. We need action now, not later.”
“We don’t want to grow up in a world where every person can say they’ve lost someone to gun violence,” said Valentina Quintana, 17, believing “the government values money over the lives of people. Mass shooting after mass shooting. Why must we wait? I say we don’t. We must vote out those who accept money from the NRA, vote out those who blame mental health for gun violence but don’t provide any services or options for those who are mentally ill. We’re the new generation and we cannot allow this to continue.”
“None of us should be afraid of sending our children to a place they should feel safe,” said Juwanna Smith of the Sisterhood of Mothers.
Charnette Briggs, 22, added a musical break to the speeches, singing the 1965 hit, “What the World Needs Now is Love.”
“I chose it because there’s so much hate in the world,” Briggs said. “I was taught that we’re better together than apart. Love is a big factor.”
Initial looking at the crowd “was a little nerve-wracking,” said Briggs. “But it feels great. I hope the president takes this (the nationwide marches) seriously. No more lives need to be sacrificed, no more lives need to be killed.”