Olivia Ali/Nevada Sagebrush
Protestors march to Reno City Plaza on Saturday, March 24. The local march was one of 800 sister marches happening across the country.

Reno citizens gathered on Saturday, March 24, to join the nation in the March For Our Lives — a protest to reform gun control in light of recent school shootings across the nation.

On Saturday morning, around 5,000 people marched down Virginia Street in support of the victims and survivors of school shootings — particularly those of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and faculty members were killed in February. The Reno march was organized by three students of the University of Nevada, Reno, and was just one of the 800 sister marches that were held around the nation on Saturday.

Marchers began gathering near the Bruce R. Thompson U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building around 9 a.m. with signs and shirts to share with the crowd. At 11:30 a.m., marchers took off down the street toward Reno City Plaza holding signs and banners of support.

Once at Reno City Plaza, numerous speakers and musical groups took the stage to address the crowd. Musical numbers included Reno High School Choral and Vocal Motion singing songs related to gun reform.

Throughout the march, there was a constant reminder to vote and call local representatives. Representatives registering young adults to vote displayed the push for youth to vote. Protesters also chanted things such as “We Will Vote”, “Vote Them Out”, and “Lives Over Guns”.

Speakers ranged from students as young as 8th graders to college students to adults with direct connections to the effects of gun violence.

Speaker Christine Brown preached the importance of calling representatives by presenting statistics.

“According to them, NRA calls are outnumbering anti-gun calls ten to one,” Brown said. “Do you believe that? Prove it and call your representatives.”

McQueen High School student Noah Christensen’s speech centered around the importance of calling representatives, as he has gained national attention for using foul language during a call to Sen. Amodei, which resulted in his suspension from the school. According to Christensen, strength comes in numbers.

“They cannot suspend us all and they can’t call all of our schools,” Christensen said. “All of you should be marching and spreading the message.”

Reno High School student body president Ben Nebesky shared the fears he and his peers felt when seeing a threat of a dangerous person on Reno High School’s campus.

“I immediately took this threat to our school police officer because in this day and age I can’t take any chances,” Nebesky said.

Fear while sitting in classrooms was a common theme among the students’ speeches. This fear felt by students spurred the original March for Our Lives, which was organized by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

UNR student Katie Worrall saw the push for change and took it upon herself to organize the local march in Reno. Worrall called in the help of fellow university students Rosie Gully and Nnedi Stephens. According to Gully, it was necessary for her to plan this to see change happen.

“This is important because this is about gun reform,” Gully said. “This isn’t about trying to take away your guns. This is about making sure kids don’t get killed anymore. This is about making sure people don’t have to live in fear every single day.”

In terms of a bigger picture, Gully hopes this movement will keep all students safe with the implementation of gun reform laws. Gully stresses the importance of voting on a state level as a means for nationwide reform.

“We passed gun legislation in 2016 through the people’s vote,” Gully said. “This wasn’t even through the legislature. We passed it, and it hasn’t even gone into effect because of our current leaders within [Nevada]. We want this bill. The people want this bill.”

The march was backed by Washoe County Education Association, Moms Demand Action, Nevada Gun Safety Coalition and The Brady Campaign.

Olivia Ali can be reached at mpurdue@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.