Today we saw the the ugly side of the Pro-gun movement with Rep Mary Franson comparing those attending this past weekend’s rallies to Hitler Youth. The adults here in the Fighting 41 thought that was wrong, but we wanted to ask the youth who attended what they thought. We present to you our newest guest blogger Alayna Smieja, a senior at Blaine High School.

My name is Alayna Smieja and I took part in the Minneapolis “March for our Lives” march on Saturday. My experience was wonderful. I am a senior at Blaine High School and have not experienced an actual shooting, but I can say that the threat is real. Last year, my school had a gun brought into it, only two weeks after someone had written “Blaine’s Bloodest Day” on the walls of the school bathroom. Although it was misspelled, the threat was clear, and many parents pulled their children out of school that day. The school did not seem to take extra precautions, as a gun was brought in so soon after. This was a major reason why I chose to take part in the March. I have a younger sister who is six years my junior, and I don’t want to worry about her while I am in college.

Citizens carrying signs travel up Wabasha St. in downtown St. Paul on the way to the Minnesota State Capitol during the March for our Lives rally on Saturday, March 24, 2018. (Tom Webb / Special to the Pioneer Press)

The march itself was very welcoming and powerful. Most of those who marched were students, and the rest were either parents who came to support their children, or teachers. The speeches given were powerful and resonated a message about action we wanted to see within the government. The people giving speeches were not giving orders towards those rallied or threatening them. They were simply giving first hand accounts of why they were there, and to tell our local government why all of us had rallied there. The message we sent out to our government was that we are constituents and we will not support those who do not support us. It is an overall peaceful movement. A movement demanding change because the old ways are hurting us, American citizens. The March was organized so that people would pay attention to us, and hear our voices as one people. Not as a cult with a vengeful leader.

 

I also took place in the women’s march in Minneapolis after Trump was inaugurated. It was my first march and I enjoyed it very much. However, I felt the March for our Lives was more powerful. As I said before, the March was mostly students, and it was a very empowering experience to see the faces of people who were growing up with me hold so much ambition. I watched them not only tackle the task of ending school shootings, but gun violence in general. There was definitely an emphasis not to leave behind people of color, who are facing gun violence much worse than the rest of us.

 

I have had the hope to one day work in the capital since I was about fifteen, and this weekend only refueled that dream. I have such faith in the people that marched beside me and showed me what democracy looks like. I hope one day to be worthy of the position to help them change the world. The youth truly are our future.

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Author: Alayna Smieja