Thousands of students, teachers and community members came out on Saturday in Albuquerque for the March for Our Lives rally. Survivors led a rally in Washington D.C. and Albuquerque’s event was was one of many held across the country in response to last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
New Mexico student organizers highlighted the importance of hearing from young people who represent the diversity of New Mexico, including Native Americans, African Americans and the LGBTQ community. Organizers encouraged young people who are turning 18 this year to sign up to vote.
Elysia Choudhrie (above right), 6th grade student at Rehoboth Christian School - The shooting in Aztec scared me because I always thought they were in big places. In my mind, New Mexico isn’t that big, and so it kind of scared me.
Maggi Vandrunen (above left), a 7th grade student currently in home school - I think to start with assault weapons would probably be a good start. And maybe if the problem continues, we can focus on other problems.
Cameron Heath, UNM student (pictured with his sister Kate Heath, 6th grade student at LBJ middle school) - I want to protest the violence, make sure that we can get our voice across. It’s important for young people across the country to be cognizant of what’s going on and to present our voice out there in a peaceful way.
Marc Comstsock, actor and parent - I’m with my 8-month-old daughter, Violet. It kind of breaks my heart that she’s growing up in a generation where she has to have active shooter drills. Just watching these parents grieve recently, it’s time to speak up and say something and try to push for change and back these kids who are leading us.
Jonathon Alonzo (middle), a sophomore at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) and lead organizer - I got involved in this because, as a young man of color, I see my close friends or even relatives that lose their lives to either suicide or street violence pretty often. Gun violence to us doesn’t look like school shootings it looks like street violence and suicides. And those voices deserve to be represented here because although young brown and black kids are killed in our streets every week - they don’t get rallies of thousands of people, they don’t raise millions of dollars in days, they don’t get a CNN town hall. And they deserve to be represented here and they deserve justice.
Zoey Craft (above left), a junior at La Cueva High School and lead organizer - I decided to get involved because, especially after the Parkland shooting, I would be in group chats with my friends who were scared to go to school. We were debating, 'do we go to school tomorrow? Is this safe?' APS schools have gotten threats. And I think it felt like it was really starting to directly affect us.
(Also pictured above: Blair Dixon, freshman at UNM and lead organizer)
Ethan Torres, student at the Health Leadership High School - The message I was trying to give out is that not only that us LGBTQ and people of color also get attacks like this, we also are in fear as well. I just wanted to let everyone know that we are here standing with them as well. We feel them and we know what they are going through.
Ella-kari Loftfield (above left), high school history teacher - I came out today because I feel like there has been a kind of false dichotomy created that either there are no guns allowed or no rules allowed. And I feel like in society, when we allow people to polarize us, we can’t find common ground.
Riazullah “Riaz” Alkozai, senior at Highland high school - I escaped a war zone, Afghanistan, and I’m here and I don’t want this place to be a war zone like it is in Afghanistan. America is supposed to be a place, a leader, supposed to be a peaceful country. For me, I live here and I think it’s my second home. I go to school and so it’s important for me to do my best to prevent what is happening.