EducationGunsNews

Pueblo’s March for Our Lives: ‘I got tired of things not happening’

Author: Erin Prater - March 24, 2018 - Updated: April 1, 2018

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From left: Pueblo County high school students Ava Martinez, Alanna Jackson and Sophie Markuson begin marching from the Pueblo County Courthouse Saturday afternoon to the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library, where a March for Our Lives rally was held. Upwards of 200 attended. (Photo by Erin Prater/Colorado Politics)

PUEBLO — Upwards of 200 activists gathered outside the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library in downtown Pueblo Saturday afternoon to protest gun violence as a part of the national March for Our Lives movement.

About 70 local high school students congregated outside the county courthouse at 1 p.m. and made the nearly two-mile march to the library, where a large crowd — mostly adults organized by grassroots group Pueblo Indivisible — awaited.

“This is something we’re passionate about,” said Alanna Jackson, a 17-year-old junior at Pueblo’s Centennial High School who used Snapchat to help organize the student rally at the courthouse.

“We’re going to be relentless. This is not just a fad,” Jackson said.

Three-year-old Isaac Carter, of Penrose, holds a sign outside the Pueblo Couty Courthouse Saturday afternoon. Carter and family members accompanied students from the Pueblo County Courthouse to the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library, where they attended a March for Our Lives rally. (Photo by Erin Prater, Colorado Politics)

Fellow organizer Sophie Markuson DiPrince nodded in agreement.

“When we’re on lockdown, you never know if this is real. Is one of my friends going to die?” said the 17-year-old junior at Pueblo’s Central High School. “When I’m getting dressed, I think, ‘Can I run in this?’ It’s always a thought in my mind.”

This pervasive anxiety shouldn’t be a part of students’ daily lives — especially while at school, said Ava Martinez.

“I should be worrying, ‘Did I get my homework right? What grades am I going to get?'” the 17-year-old Centennial High junior said.

Savanna Silas, a 17-year-old senior at East High School in Pueblo, showed up Saturday hoping adults would take notice. Her school recently experienced a threat, and heightened police presence that day made her feel safe, she said.

But “other than that threat, nobody really checks in on stuff,” she said.

“What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!” students and a few adults chanted as the group made its way on foot to the library this sunny, breezy afternoon.

Some marched with signs raised, others with fists.

“Enough is enough!” they chanted, blowing through a crosswalk against the caution of a pedestrian signal.

One woman defiantly lingered in a crosswalk. She stood facing traffic, a sign hoisted high above her head, her long purple skirt and feathered hair billowing in the breeze.

Some drivers honked in short, quick, friendly bursts. Others laid on their horns, seemingly in opposition.

Regardless, the marchers waived cheerfully.

The rally turned more political when activists at the library began chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho. Cory Gardner’s got to go,” as an attendee lifted a cardboard cutout of Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner holding a faux check from the NRA.

A march attendee holds a cardboard cutout of Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner holding a check from the NRA at Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally at the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library in downtown Pueblo. Upwards of 200 attended. (Photo by Erin Prater/Colorado Politics)

“Vote out Tipton!” one woman cried, referencing Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez.

Danielle Vuksinick stood several feet back from the crowd and silently took it all in. Big events aren’t her style. In fact, Saturday’s rally was her first. But she felt compelled to attend, even if it meant leaving her comfort zone.

“I got tired of things not happening,” the 19-year-old Colorado State University Pueblo student said timidly. “I don’t want people to not have guns, but I do want to make it harder for people who want to do some damage.

“It’s really empowering knowing everyone is stepping up versus sitting at home and waiting for something to happen.”

Sixty-two year old Jill Mather wasn’t your stereotypical rally attendee. The Pueblo County resident said she formerly served in the Army and has shot an M16 rifle.

But she’s also a former nurse and Vietnam War protester, as well as the mother of two special-needs teens, whom she brought to the rally.

Her son Mychal, 14, has Down Syndrome and will not stay quiet during an active-shooter drill, she said.

“I have a reoccurring nightmare where he’s pushed out in the hall” during a school shooting, she said. “I see a shadowy figure, and thankfully, I wake up.

“I don’t want my son to endanger others, but his life is valuable too.”

In her eyes, the high school students who rallied in downtown Pueblo Saturday were serving their country just as much as those who wear a uniform.

“These kids are protecting us on our own shores,” said Mather as she gazed at the crowd of young people lining Abriendo Avenue.

“These kids are going to be voting someday — that’s the sweet revenge.”

 

Editor’s note: This article was updated on April 1 to attach the correct caption to the picture of Isaac Carter.

Erin Prater

Erin Prater

Erin Prater is Colorado Politics' digital editor. She is a multimedia journalist with 15 years of experience writing, editing and designing for newspapers, magazines, websites and publishing houses. Her previous positions include military reporter at The Gazette, general assignment reporter at The Huerfano County (Colo.) World, copy editor at David C. Cook publishing house and adjunct mass communication instructor at Pueblo Community College. Her bylines include The New York Times Upfront, The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Military Spouse magazine and Omaha Magazine (Omaha, Neb.). Her syndicated bylines include The Denver Post, MSNBC.com, Military.com and wire services.


2 comments

  • Zachary Carter

    March 25, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Hello! Great article. The second image is of my son, Isaac Carter, but caption is of the third picture in the article. Please change the article so it’s accurately captioned. Thank you!
    -Zachary Carter

    • Erin Prater
      Erin Prater

      April 1, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Sorry for the mix-up. Will do!

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