We all know – especially those of us in Orlando – about the shooting deaths of seventeen students on 14 February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School down in Parkland, Florida. It was the same horrific senseless killing we’ve all come to see too often, perpetrated by a young white male with a “lawfully” purchased assault rifle, in this last case an AR-15. But rather than fade away in shock, the students of MSD High School have decided to do something about fixing the real problem, a near total lack of sane gun control. And so they’ve been marching and protesting across the country. Their spirit has taken hold all over the state, the country, and the world.
This last Saturday, 24 March, we all Marched Four Our Lives. The march in Orlando had at least 25,000 participants. The marchers met for a rally at Lake Eola Park, then marched down East Central Blvd to Orange Avenue, then south to the Dr. Phillips Art Center where they rallied a second time. Judy and I went to participate. We parked next to the Art Center where I left Judy in her chair, then I walked up to Lake Eola where I listened a bit to the rally, took some photos, then walked back to wait for the march. These first photos are from that march down Orange Avenue right at the Art Center.
Orlando Police were out in a big way. Mostly riding bikes, making sure that nothing happened to anyone and that the assemblies and march were peaceful. And they were. I know of no incidents the entire time I was there, and I haven’t read of any since then. The police were pretty cool the whole time. I’m reminded of the Occupy Orlando march; a lot of participants, a lot of energy in the crowd, and a lot of Orlando Police keeping everything calm and cool.
And, of course, we had our “counter protesters.” The alt-right assholes were out exercising their First Amendment rights, but they were pathetically few. I think this was the largest group of them (maybe a half-dozen) I saw the entire time I was there. They were flanked on both sides by Orlando Police, along with quite a few more outside of the photo frame.
Once the march leaders got to the Seneff Arts Plaza they stopped and congregated around, chanting while the marchers built up around them. It was a pretty impressive, peaceful, and positive political action, and all due to high schoolers. Who would have thought it would take a teenager to get an old man like me politically fired up again?
Make no mistake: enough is enough. One of the casualties of this will be our very own Marco Rubio, or “Little Marco” as The Donald liked to insult him as. He’s on the record as opposing what the kids and their supporters stand for, so he has to be replaced. He will not politically survive his next senate race in 2020. I will personally help see to that.
I have a lot more photos from Saturday, and a lot more to think about before posting anything. I’m still processing so much.