Athens Residents and Students gather for a picture before the March For Our Lives rally in Columbus

Athens Residents “March For Our Lives” in Columbus

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While hundreds participated in the March For Our Lives in Athens Saturday morning, 27 Athens residents and students marched through the streets of Columbus for the same cause; to oppose gun violence in schools and support stronger gun laws.

Athens residents on their way to the State House in Columbus

Kerrie Shaw, a social worker and activist in Athens collected funds to hire a bus to Columbus after a group of Athens High School and OHIO students asked her if they could join the march in Columbus.

“We wanted to make sure we were present in Athens and at the state level,” Shaw said. “Another community member contacted me and said she wanted to help raise money to pay for the bus to make sure young people were going to Columbus from Athens.”

Kerri Shaw and her son Harper at West Bank Park in Columbus before the “March For Our Lives” rally

Along with local students and residents, Shaw’s seven-year old son Harper also marched in Columbus.

“I think it’s really important for him to know that we have a voice and it needs to be heard and that being a child doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice,” she said. “I also wanted him to recognize that these school shootings could have or could affect him.”

Around 800 marches were held throughout the US on Saturday – all coincided with the “March for Our Lives” event in Washington, D.C. The D.C. rally was organized by survivors of the Parkland, FL. shooting to demand action from Congress. Everytown for Gun Safety, a national group co-founded and largely funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assisted with organizing and promoting the events.

Nellie Sullivan, a junior from Athens High School who presented a resolution in favor of stronger regulations on assault weapons to the Athens County Commission in February, was among those marching in Columbus. She said she wanted to also support the Columbus community because it has more severe gun violence than Athens.

“It was really inspiring to hear how people have overcome the gun violence they’ve faced,” Sullivan said. “I just couldn’t imagine waking up one morning and finding out on social media that I’ve lost one of my friends.”  

Sullivan said she wants to create a group for the youth of Athens to come together to continue the conversation about preventing gun violence.

“We can’t let the conversation die if we want things to change; you can’t stop after people tell you ‘no,’” she said. “You have to keep pushing through or else we won’t see change.”

Sullivan said Athens High School students are planning a school walkout on April 20th at 10 a.m – coinciding with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.

There will also be an event called, “Grade Your Government-Gun Control,” at Donkey Coffee. The event will be on Saturday, April 14th from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. “Report cards” will be used to send messages to elected officials about gun control.