Student-Organized March For Our Lives Cleveland Focuses On School Safety

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On March 24, the March For Our Lives rally kicks off in cities around the country, with a Cleveland satellite march taking place at Public Square.

Conceived as a response to incidences of gun violence around the country, specifically the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the marches have been primarily organized for and by high school students.

Pranav Iyer, a senior and class president at Solon High School, is one of the organizers of the Cleveland march, which currently expects nearly 2,000 attendees. He got involved after helping to plan Solon's March 14's National School Walkout. Once he learned of several other schools throughout Northeast Ohio participating in the walkout for gun legislation, he realized a larger statement was possible.

"I reached out to all these class presidents across the area," Iyer said. "We decided maybe we should do something broader in Cleveland so that not just schools but also community members, parents, teachers, everyone could participate in a downtown march."

Since the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, high school students have become the center of the gun control movement, taking on a national platform as they confront senators and NRA officials for their inaction. Iyer says seeing people his age take on the contentious and highly politicized realm of gun safety has galvanized him and his classmates.

"We see the students from Parkland themselves becoming the leaders, taking action. I think that's inspired students to say 'if they can do it, I can do the same,'" Iyer said.

Though the recent movement for gun control has been led mostly by teenagers, Iyer acknowledges that translating this into legislative action has been difficult.

"Oftentimes I think as students we find it hard to find our voice just because we're disenfranchised, we can't vote," Iyer said. "That's why maybe politicians don't pay attention. We're not a voter bloc for them."

With gun control set to become a central topic in the upcoming midterm elections, the political divisions of the topic have become difficult to ignore. However, the march's organizers have stressed that the march is bipartisan, as its purpose is ultimately to ensure student safety.

To avoid partisanship, Iyer says that potential speakers are being selected based on the criteria that they support the overall goal of the march, rather than viewing it as a campaign stop.

"We really want the message to be about making the schools safer," Iyer said. "It's students together regardless of your party belief, we're coming together under one cause, uniting under one banner. Let's spread the message."

More information about how to get involved with the March For Our Lives can be found here. The organizers are also accepting donations through their GoFundMe.

The March for Our Lives rally kicks off at 10 a.m. on Public Square.

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