Students from all over Arizona are expected to rally this morning at the State Capitol, joining their peers in a nationwide event to demand their lawmakers take action on guns.
Following the lead of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors, Phoenix high schoolers organized a march to demand an end to gun violence, as did their contemporaries in dozens of cities around the country. And if the Phoenix March for Our Lives Facebook event is any indication, turnout could be considerable. Almost 5,000 people have RSVPed to say they're attending, and more than 9,000 have clicked that they're interested.
Jordan Harb, 17, is one of the principal organizers of the Phoenix march, along a small group of other high schoolers. Soon after the February 14 shooting in Florida, Harb met Samantha Lekberg, a high school student from Surprise, and several other teenagers.
The surge of student energy is going to continue after the rally, Harb said, and will carry over into the 2018 midterm elections. "I think this was a terrible year to piss off the younger generation," he said.
Together, their group of student activists has held a sit-in outside of Governor Doug Ducey's office and presented a gun control proposal to his staff. Harb said that the governor's new school safety proposal is mostly designed to appease voters who aren't paying attention to the details.
"He made his proposal because so many people were getting upset, and he wants to make it look like he’s taking leadership when he’s not," Harb said.
Harb said that their organizing committee expects a crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 people, similar in size to the Phoenix Women's March in January.
James Garcia, the owner of Creative Vistas Media and a spokesperson for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is handling communications for the group. Geraldine Hills, the founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety, is serving as the fiscal agent for the high schoolers. Hills is handling funds raised through the march's GoFundMe, which has pulled in over $14,000, in addition to money from the merchandise sales.
The money is being held in a separate account under the auspices of the Arizonans for Gun Safety nonprofit, according to Hills. The cash may be returned to the high schoolers at a later date, should they decide to create their own nonprofit organization.
Harb, a student at Mesa's Mountain View High School, said he's devoted nearly every waking hour to Saturday's event.
Parkland changed the conversation around gun violence, he said, because of the committed high schoolers in Florida who decided that "enough is enough." In doing so, the Parkland survivors galvanized a generation that has grown up with school shootings.
Harb's a former volunteer with Save Our Schools Arizona, but most of his classmates are apolitical.
After Parkland, Harb was surprised to see the level of interest from some of his peers.
"People who were apathetic and couldn’t care less about politics are coming to me and saying, ‘Jordan, how can I get involved?’" Harb said.
Here's everything you need to know if you're planning to attend the Phoenix March for Our Lives.
Where: The march will begin in the vicinity of the State Capitol's Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, located at 1700 West Washington Street. Organizers are encouraging attendees to arrive around 9 a.m. Speakers will address the crowd starting at 10 a.m. and then the march will start around 11 a.m.
The rally organizers paid $1,400 to secure the plaza, according to the Arizona Department of Administration.
Parking: The parking lots at 14th Avenue and Adams as well as 17th Avenue and Monroe will be available prior to 10 a.m., but once the event starts, streets will begin to shut down. From then on, organizers say attendees should park at 17th Avenue and Jackson or 18th Avenue and Madison.
If you don't want to drive, Lyft is offering free rides to March for Our Lives attendees in Phoenix who RSVP, or who obtain a ride code on the day of the event by clicking here.
Organizers are not releasing the march route before the event for security reasons, but you can expect attendees to walk from the Capitol through downtown Phoenix.
Rally Lineup: Speakers include the lead organizers of March for Our Lives Phoenix, Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego of District 7, and Las Vegas shooting survivor Ann-Marie Parsons. To close out the speaking portion of the event, singers from Queen Creek High School will perform a song from the musical Dear Evan Hansen at approximately 11 a.m.
Harb explained that the organizers wanted a diverse group of speakers who could speak to the broad impact that gun violence has on society. "Gun violence is not just a school issue, it’s an epidemic that affects people in every walk of life," Harb said.
The full list of speakers is below.
What to bring: If you want to buy a March for Our Lives T-shirt, bring cash. Shirts are $20. Drones and alcoholic beverages aren't allowed, and organizers are discouraging people from bringing "large backpacks, pets, and wagons."
Packing water and sunscreen might be a good idea.
Look for food trucks at the corner of 17th Avenue and Adams Street around 9 a.m.
What happens after Saturday? "Pay attention," Harb said. The March for Our Lives committee plans to make sure that when rally attendees go back to their high schools, local student organizers will register their classmates to vote if they haven't already and encourage them to call their representatives to demand action on guns.
"Yelling and screaming isn’t going to do anything, but registering to vote does," Harb said.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Jordan Harb and Samantha Lekberg, March for Our Lives Phoenix co-chairs
2. Gerry Hills, founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety
3. Molly Jimmerson, Students Demand Action
4. James Wade Hickley, gun violence survivor
5. Jacob Martinez, American Youth in Politics
6. Congressman Ruben Gallego
7. Bobbi Sudberry, Kaity's Way
8. Jennifer Longdon, Giffords Arizona Coalition
9. Jose Guzeman, gun violence survivor
10. Lawrence Robinson, president-elect of the Arizona School Boards Association
11. Ann-Marie Parsons, Las Vegas shooting survivor
12. Grace Martinez, Stand Up, Speak Up, Save a Life
13. Queen Creek High School, performing "You Will Be Found"