They are tired of being afraid.
Ashley Korsvik, a Pasco High School senior, has two sisters still in school, and a recent memory of a gun scare.
Devi Taylor, a Chiawana student, also dealt with a recent shooting scare and thinks the government is not taking children’s lives seriously enough.
And Sarah Schroeder, a former Hanford student, said she is tired of people just making empty calls for thoughts and prayers after each shooting.
They were just a few of the more than 2,000 people who came to Howard Amon Park on Saturday afternoon to take part in Richland’s March for Our Lives.
They listened to about an hour of presentations from other students and teachers, all urging them to be involved and calling for action. Then they took their signs onto George Washington Way.
The event was one of 800 sibling events across the globe including in Walla Walla and Yakima. The student-led effort brought hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. on Saturday to call for change following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
We’ve basically accepted that this is our normal. It’s our normal that kids are only allowed to have clear backpacks at school in case someone has a weapon.
Sierra Brines, a parent and junior at WSU Tri-Cities
While some in the crowd at the Richland rally called for banning assault rifles and enacting stricter gun control, the Richland High students responsible for organizing Saturday’s event stressed stricter background checks and better access to mental health care.
Sierra Brines, a junior at WSU Tri-Cities, just went through a first gun-related lockdown a couple weeks ago.
It was a new experience for Brines, one she has in common with her 2-year-old daughter, whose preschool class recently ran its first active shooter drill.
“We’ve basically accepted that this is our normal,” she said. “It’s our normal that kids are only allowed to have clear backpacks at school in case someone has a weapon.”
She criticized people applauding the shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland that ended when a school resource officer shot and killed the shooter. She noted multiple students died after the dust cleared.
What a great job by these young people to not only strike a match to ignite this passion in Florida, but all across the country.
Steve Perez, Hanford High School government studies teacher
Another Richland student, Reid Romine, quoted John F. Kennedy, saying they should not seek a Republican or Democrat answer. They should seek the right answer.
“Let us not to seek to place blame for our past, but let us seek responsibility for our future,” he continued.
Steve Perez, a Hanford High School government studies teacher, said the turnout of students at this event gave him hope for change for the first time since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
“What a great job by these young people to not only strike a match to ignite this passion in Florida, but all across the country,” he said.