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Tri-State students participate in March For Our Lives here, in Washington

Local students heading to 'March For Our Lives'
Local students heading to 'March For Our Lives'
Local students heading to 'March For Our Lives'
Local students heading to 'March For Our Lives'
Posted at 7:26 PM, Mar 22, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Some Tri-State students joined students from Parkland, Florida, and across the country at the March For Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. 

Others marched in downtown Cincinnati.

They're calling for safer schools in their communities and legislation to address "rampant" gun violence after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. 

"This is our time," Springboro High junior Riley Weisman said. "If they can't do it, we'll do it. We'll step up. It's not a matter of if we can do it, it's when, to make this change."

At least 1,000 people marched through downtown Cincinnati, including Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld and Councilman Greg Landsman. It was one of hundreds of satellite marches planned around the United States and world.

It's valuable that the events follow a clear lead from Florida, said Rasleen Krupp, a Wyoming High School junior helping to organize the Cincinnati event.

"This march is purely the Parkland students," said Krupp, 17. "This is them leading this, them on the front lines, and I think that's important because we're carrying out their message."

The Stoneman Douglas teens already proved their mettle, she said.

"These Parkland students are really showing us they have what it takes and they want change, and they're going to fight for the change," Krupp said.

In addition to increased gun control, marchers advocated for better school-safety measures and incorporated voter-registration efforts aimed especially at the youngest potential voters.

"If we get everyone registered, and we get everyone to the polls, we can elect anyone out of office who doesn't give us what we want," Krupp said, noting that it's a midterm election year.

The demonstrations come 10 days after students honored the Florida victims and, in some cases, called for changes in gun-control laws during walkouts at schools around the U.S.

Saturday's events differ from the walkouts because they're more public and allow parents and other adults to stand alongside the students raising their voices, said Kanyinsola Oye, a 17-year-old senior at Columbus Alternative High School helping to organize a march aiming to draw thousands in the state capital.

Demonstrators there will advocate for better addressing all sorts of gun violence, not just school or mass shootings, she said.

"Students are, even through their fear, advocating for the issues and continuing to say that we will not stop until something happens and change occurs," Oye said.

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, a Democrat who will challenge Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot in November, helped pay for 15 local students' trip to the main march in Washington.

He said he was "inspired" by the student activists.

"This is a student-led movement. It's not led by politicians and elected officials. It's led by these inspiring people behind me," Pureval said, referring to the students. "In Cincinnati and all across the country, these new voters, these citizens across the country, are going to show up not only in Washington, D.C. this month, but also in November to demand change from their elected officials."

The Washington march was expected to draw hundreds of thousands of participants.

"It's more than just walking out, more than marching, it’s more than protesting (for) gun control," Mason High senior Kaleab Jegol said. "It's about staying active members of our democracy and going out to vote."

"Youth need to know if we take our power to the polls, we can change the legislation that we no longer stand for," Jegol added.