'March for Our Lives' Protests Fill the Streets of Over a Dozen Bay Area Cities
Students hold signs at the March for Our Lives protest in downtown Oakland. (Sheraz Sadiq/KQED)
Protesters demonstrated in more than a dozen cities in the Bay Area on Saturday, joining hundreds of other cities across the U.S. and the world in the "March for Our Lives" protests calling for an end to gun violence and for increases in gun regulations following a mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school on Feb. 14 that left 17 dead.
The marches continued student-led calls for Congress to pass stricter gun regulations following the Valentine's Day massacre of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bay Area marches are being held in big cities like Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, but also in smaller locations such as Burlingame, Pacifica and San Mateo.
At the Oakland march, which began at 10:00 a.m., demonstrators in Frank Ogawa Plaza sang, clapped and chanted as speakers called for a "culture of kindness and resistance."
Clio Petty, 13, marched in Oakland with a sign that reads, "Give my teacher a better salary and not a gun."
Petty, a student at Albany Middle School in Albany, CA, says "gun violence is a cause I feel strongly about because I'm a student, and it could affect me."
Oscar Blair, 13, also took part in the Oakland march with his younger sister. He attends Bret Harte Middle School in Oakland.
"I'm here because it’s so stupid," Blair says, "We have taken so much action, but the government hasn’t made any change... but if we keep fighting they’ll be forced to make change."
Hannah Smith, 18, a senior at Miramonte High School in Orinda, thinks “it’s ridiculous that politicians think that fighting gun violence is done by introducing more guns in schools."
In San Jose, protesters began marching at 11 a.m. from San Jose City Hall. They marched for about a mile, chanting "Enough is enough," and "No more silence, end gun violence."
At a rally at the end of the march, Asmara Farah, 12, called on Congress to act, asking for a 30-day waiting period for purchasing a gun as well as strengthening background checks to make sure gun purchasers don't have a history of domestic violence.
"Politicians and our elected officials should value our lives over a hobby, over bribes from the NRA," Farah says. "All these people who came to this march, they're for actual gun reform. The kids are getting politically active because we're tired, we're sick and tired of the joke they are playing in Washington."
In San Francisco, Alison Goh and Jenny Tse volunteered at a League of Woman Voters booth to register march participants to vote.
"Generally it's better to register kids when they are in high school because once you are registered to vote, you are registered for life," Tse says.
Their goal is to get the younger generations registered to vote because, in California, you can pre-register at the age of 16 and 17.
"I think this is an important moment for folks who are not registered and for high school students to even pre-register to continue their civic engagement," Goh says.
Antoinette Adams, another protestor of the San Francisco march, says she's demonstrated because she wants to be a teacher one day and fears guns in her future classroom.
"I'm here today to march in solidarity with the 17 lives that were lost as well as to march for our lives as young people," Adams said. "As a future educator, I'm marching for my future children so that this will not be a problem for them. I don't need to have guns. Who needs that? It will cause more problems."
In Southern California, dozens more marches took place in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Orange counties.
Hayley Licata, 16, is one of the survivors of the mass school shooting in Parkland. She's one of two survivors who attended a march in downtown Los Angeles. Licata and her classmate, Mia Freeman, 17, spoke out for the first time since the shooting during their trip to California.
She says the nation's show of support has been tremendous since the February shooting took the lives of her 17 classmates and staff.
"People are showing that they actually do care and that they want to make a change also and be part of the change. And, it's not just the people in Parkland, but everybody across the world," Licata said.
Cesar Alvarado, 18, marched in Los Angeles for "those whose voices have been silenced." Alvarado attends Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California and he says while he hasn't been at school when there was a shooting or gun threat, he "can sympathize for those who have, it's just sad to see people's hearts that have been broken [because of] gun violence."
He wants to see more gun control in areas that don't have it as well as a ban on assault rifles.
On March 14, thousands of students across the Bay Area and California joined a nationwide school walkout, one month after the mass shooting, holding 17-minute moments of silence, one minute for each person killed in Parkland. Organizers said there were approximately 3,000 walkouts across the U.S. last week.
Another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. KQED's Don Clyde, Guy Marzorati, Shia Levitt, Tiffany Camhi, Sheraz Sadiq, KPCC Staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.