Pueblo’s March for Our Lives: ‘I got tired of things not happening’
Author: Erin Prater - March 24, 2018 - Updated: April 1, 2018
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.
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.
“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.