Students speak out at Rockland Protest March to End Gun Violence – Knox County VillageSoup


ROCKLAND — Students at local schools spoke Saturday morning of nightmares about mass shootings and feared sending their last “I love you” texts to their parents while hiding under desks.

Students from Oceanside High School, Camden Hills Regional High School and Brunswick Junior High School spoke at an event that included a march through town of approximately 100 inhabitants. The End Gun Violence march began at Chapman Park in Rockland.

Gail Curtis, 17, of Camden Hills Regional High School speaks during a protest in hopes of ending school violence in Rockland on June 11. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Those involved in the march held signs calling for an end to gun violence, stronger gun safety legislation and a focus on keeping our schoolchildren safe.

Speakers at the event included State Representative Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, Representative Ann Matlack, D-Spruce Head, Reverend Peter Jenks and District Attorney Natasha Irving.

Doudera said the group joined thousands to march across America on Saturday, “marching for our lives against gun violence.”

She said there was a gun problem in Maine in the form of suicides, domestic violence, accidents and the recent death of a two-year-old child in an argument that began to because of a t-shirt.

Lily Leeman, 14, of Brunswick Junior High staged a strike at her school to protest gun violence and was targeted by a Republican Senate candidate. Leeman spoke at the march in Rockland on June 11. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

She spoke of efforts to create gun safety legislation, aimed not at taking guns away from hunters, but at promoting gun safety. She was hailed as brave by Matlack for forming a gun safety caucus.

Jenks said that Saint John the Baptist spoke truth to power, and he wanted to follow that example. He said America must repent of the idolatry of guns. “As a people, we must repent by voting!”

Claire Caveney Snyder, 18, who just graduated from Oceanside High School, explained how this graduation event was ruined for her by the fear that there would be a shooting. She said there were incidents when she was in middle school when a student brought a gun to school in one instance and a man was outside the school with a gun in another. .

“I thought it was normal,” she said. “It’s not something anyone should have to normalize.”

About 100 people marched to Rockland on Saturday to demonstrate against gun violence. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

She argued that this does not happen in other countries because they have the right laws to prevent it.

Gail Curtis, 17, from Camden Hills Regional High School, argued that while millions of dollars are invested in preventing cancer and traffic accidents, the second and third leading causes of death among young people in the United States, the same effort is not put into dealing with the leading cause of death – gun violence.

She noted that there have been 246 mass shootings in the United States so far this year.

Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, helped organize the march to end gun violence in Rockland. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

“Change can happen,” she said. “We just have to fight for it.”

She pointed to progress in Britain and Australia where governments responded to shootings in the 1980s and 1990s with swift and tough legislation to ban automatic and semi-automatic weapons. These nations do not see the mass shootings taking place in the United States.

These nations prioritize human life over the possession of weapons, Curtis said.

Curtis also spoke about how our culture of school shootings has affected the daily lives of students. She said she heard students talking in the hallways about where they would hide in a shooting, which teacher might be best able to protect them, which students would be most likely to carry out an attack . She said the students were joking to hide the real terror they felt.

“I had nightmares about school shootings,” she said. “Like many of my friends.”

Just recently, his school was closed. She described the vice principal crying, with the police chief outside, as she stared at the nearest exit, ready to text her parents that she loved them.

Lily Leeman, 14, of Brunswick Junior High School, said she organized an outing from her school after the recent shooting in Texas. She said she was then publicly criticized by Brogan Teel, a Brunswick parent and Republican candidate for a seat in Maine’s state Senate District 23, who, according to the Times Record, claimed the protest had was organized by a partisan and professional progressive group.

Leeman was disappointed to be shot down rather than supported by a grown leader in this way.

She spoke about the issue of guns in schools, saying she should be worried about her grades, not the shootings. This was met with applause and support from the group gathered at the event.

“If we’re old enough to get shot, we’re old enough to have a voice,” she argued.

Rep. Ann Matlack, D-Spruce Head, speaks at the End Gun Violence event June 11 in Rockland. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

Matlack said it was important to realize it was not about the lack of prayer in schools. She also pointed out that this is an issue of racism. The recent shooting in Buffalo took place in a market in a racially motivated black neighborhood.

District Attorney Natasha Irving thanked the young people who spoke and noted that she has two little girls and is also afraid of gun violence. She told the young people, “You are the most important people on Earth”, and promised that she and other adults would work very hard to keep the young people safe, while acknowledging that they are not in security now.

Reverend Peter Jenks calls on America to repent of its idolatry of guns during a June 11 protest in Rockland. Photo by Daniel Dunkle

She echoed other speakers in pointing out that guns now kill more children than cancer and car accidents. She said gun violence had increased by 50% over the past decade and was a public health crisis.

She said our society understands that driving is inherently dangerous and therefore heavily regulated. She said the same approach can be used regarding gun safety.

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