March for Our Lives event slated for Saturday in Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG — Marches to support the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students and employees were killed, will be held Saturday morning starting at Parkersburg High School and at Parkersburg South High School, an organizer said.

People can meet starting at 9 a.m. at either high school in the front parking lots. Parade permits have been acquired; however, the walk will be on the sidewalks so traffic is not disrupted, organizer Mary Barbara Hanna said in an email to the News and Sentinel.

The walk will begin at 10 a.m. to the Wood County Courthouse where there will be a public rally, she said.

“I think West Virginia has a unique gun culture, that is, people see guns as part of their every day lives. They hunt for food, they shoot for sport, and they protect their property from wildlife, like coyote,” Hanna said. “It is understandable that people don’t want any interference with their ‘right to bear arms.’ With that in mind, with respect for this culture, it is still up to the community to ensure the safety of our children and teachers. That is my perspective. That is what I support. The right to life, in my mind, surpasses the right to bear arms.”

A former student on Feb. 14 killed 17 students and employees at the school. School has resumed, but security was enhanced including the posting of armed police officers, see-through backpacks and metal detectors.

The incident has encouraged students around the country to organize marches and demonstrations for school safety. A rally also is planned in Marietta from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at Muskingum Park where the organizers are Meadow McCarthy and Lisa Bammerlin.

Students are demanding an end to gun violence and mass killings in schools, Hanna said. People are either for or against, but there has to be a middle ground, according to Hanna.

“The middle ground is the only place we can meet and start listening, understanding and finding solutions,” she said. “We are all on the same side, safety.”

People can like the events Facebook page, March For Our Lives, where organizers can be contacted, ask questions or volunteer.

“What you can do: personally take a stand for safety of children and teachers, especially if you are a gun owner. Talk with people of different opinions and concerns. Open your mind to what others’ think. You don’t have to change your mind, but be informed, deeply understand, have empathy,” Hanna said. “Imagine you and I are on a horse, you are seated facing forward and I am seated facing backward. Same horse, different views. We need different perspectives to understand the whole picture. Naysayers and supporters and fence-sitters, all are important.”