Braving the sleet and snow – and in the midst of a town water emergency – Taos students and community members joined together for a demonstration against gun violence and marched downtown.
Students from Taos High School, Taos Academy and Vista Grande organized a walk from the three schools to meet up with the community at Taos Plaza to rally for stricter gun laws throughout the United States. The students joined in a national movement where others from schools across the country walked out to remember other students injured or killed by gunmen in schools. Around 100 demonstrators gathered on the Taos Plaza to show support.
"This is a march for safety in the schools," said Taos High School junior Jenna Basehart. "We want to make schools safer. We're hoping to make gins more regulated to make sure that everyone can feel safe in any environment."
Basehart helped organized students from THS for the march and said she thinks American students do not feel safe in current times.
The national march was planned for April 20 to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre and to note the many school mass shootings that have happened since including the Feb. 14 incident at a Parkland, Florida high school.
Students participating in the march had support from staff and administration from Taos Academy and Vista Grande who were prepared to walk out of campus with the students. Students from THS were told by administration that should they walk out during class time, it would have been counted as an unexcused absence. But following the town of Taos water emergency from a failed pump Thursday (April 19) that left many in town with low water pressure, Taos Municipal Schools and others in the area closed campuses for Friday, allowing students to use their free time to walk in the march.
The march took students from the south end of town through icy cold sleet and snow flurries to the plaza where other community members waited to cheer them on. Once there, students held a rally where speeches, poems and songs for peace were shared with the audience. Students led the majority of the rally and much of the tone reflected their pleas for an end to gun violence and to reform gun laws.
"I think that the core of the problem is not guns, or knives, or acid, or bombs or whatever people use," said THS Junior Finn Campbell. "I think sometimes it's ideology, but more often than not, it's mental illness. We need to really focus- yes, energy needs to be focused on better gun control, but more than that, it needs to be focused on getting help for those who need it."
Campbell admitted that his views may be different than some of those expressed at the march, but he still decided to march and show support for students in the demonstration.
Opposition to the march was limited to a few people shouting derisions out of vehicles as the students walked to the plaza. During the march, students chanted several rhymes against the NRA and called for gun control during their walk.
For more information on the Taos student's march against gun violence, grab a copy of the April 26 Taos News.