Hundreds Attend Manassas ‘March for Our Lives’

| March 26, 2018 | 0 Comments | News

Del. Danica Roem with residents and Del. Hala Ayala (11th) at the Manassas March for Our Lives, March 25, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Grace Lintner.)

Hundreds gathered at the corner of Sudley Road and Sudley drive Manor in Manassas, Saturday, to take part in the March of Our Lives rally against gun violence. Several local churches including Bull Run Unitarian Universalists organized the event.

Every person attending the event had a reason: a fear, a concern, a personal experience that prompted them to be there. Bristow resident and mom Mindy Diepenbrock had been planning to take her family to the march in D.C. However, her daughter, who had been quite involved in the policial movement, ended up on crutches.

She did not want them to just stay home. She had been thinking a lot about the school shootings lately, noting her children are afraid. Her son was at T. Clay Wood Elementary School in Nokesville when a school shooter was believed to be on their school campus in 2014 and that has resonated with him ever since.

It’s difficult for her to believe this is their reality.

“I feel like our children are the very first generation of kids that have had to deal with this. They should not have to be afraid that they’re going to be shot while they’re in school,” said she. “It does impact their learning, and I think as a society we have to do better for them. We can do better, and we shouldn’t accept a gun culture. This should not be the new normal.”

It turns out she was not the only person who felt that way. Diepenbrock was amazed by how many people were in attendance. There were approximately 150 people at 2:30 p.m., but she was told that there were nearly 500 at the peak of the afternoon.

“It was just a lot of people. People came from (relatively) far away: Centreville, Loundoun, Burke, and Stafford,” she said. “They couldn’t make it into D.C. like us, and they wanted to be part of something.”

She saw people of all ages at the rally -teenagers, little children with their parents, adults and senior citizens. “People from all walks of life.”

And they received plenty of positive feedback from passersby, including waves, honks, beeps, peace sign and fist-bumps.

However, they also received vulgarities and one man smoked them out with fumes from his exhaust pipe.

Del. Danica Rome with young people from her district protesting gun violence. (Courtesy of Danica Roem.)

“It was disappointing because there were a lot of little kids out there,” she said.

Diepenbrock said she does not ask to make all firearms illegal. She would like “military assault-style rifles” banned for most people, mandatory waiting periods for purchasing of firearms, and gun show and private ownership also subjected to background checks.

She also wants to change policies could have stopped the Parkland shooter from legally purchase a gun.

“There needs to be some change in the way juvenile records are handled. A teen can have a long history of violent behavior, and when they turn 18, that record is sealed,” she said.

Additionally, those with severe mental illnesses or those found guilty of domestic violence can still purchase firearms.

Diepenbrock’s daughter Leah was one of the students to organize a walkout at Marsteller Middle School along with her friend Anya Barrett. Diepenbrock said she was proud that her daughter wanted to take an active role in this movement, and like the students at Parkland, become politically active.

She is proud of all the students joining the movement.

In addition to a large citizen turnout, elected officials made appearances at the rally. Delegates Danica Roem (13th) and Hala Ayala (51st) were both there in support of their constituents.

Roem said she wanted to participate her younger constituents who participated in school walkouts.

“No student should be afraid to go to school because they are afraid of being shot,” she told Bristow Beat, noting Virginia has a long history of young people fighting for change.

After the event, Roem Tweeted: “I’m so proud to call each of these students my constituents and I’m even prouder of their advocacy for preventing gun violence. Thank you to all of them for joining me at the Manassas #MarchForOurLives rally in the 13th District near Sudley Plaza. We’re all in this together.”

She also sent out a call to action on March 24 via Twitter:

“Virginians: please read HB 198 by Del. @RipSullivan48. Rip’s bill would prevent gun violence while preserving due process His bill never received a hearing this session in the House of Delegates. It deserves a hearing & a vote. https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=181&typ=bil&val=hb198 …

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