Chants of “protect kids not guns” and “thoughts and prayers are not enough” echoed on the streets of downtown Bend on Saturday as hundreds of protesters marched in support of gun reform.

The March for Our Lives started at Drake Park and was arranged by high school students from Redmond. A number of speakers, including a teacher, an emergency room doctor, and gun reform activists, spoke prior to the march.

The group marched from Drake Park along NW Riverside Boulevard, through downtown, and back.

“I have not consented to die for your Second Amendment rights,” Isabelle Richards, a 16-year-old Redmond Proficiency Academy sophomore and one of the event’s organizers, told the crowd prior to the march.

Richards, along with Juniper Rook, 16, also a sophomore at Redmond Proficiency Academy, helped plan Saturday’s event. In January, the two students also staged a walkout at their school to protest gun violence.

“When you think about school shootings, you never really think it is going to happen to you,” Richards said. “But that is happening to people every single day, and I have never personally been a victim, but I can still understand how that would feel because I am in a classroom every single day.”

Rook recalled doing school shooter drills in middle school about twice a year. Now in high school, she said drills happen about once a year. She is also concerned by the Redmond School Board’s recent decision to deny a policy that would prohibit guns on school grounds.

“We are still doing drills actively in school, while our school board is choosing to deny policies that would keep us safe from guns in our classrooms,” Rook said. “It is pretty hypocritical, honestly.”

Rook added that when gun violence occurs, it affects everyone, so people must come together to demand change.

“It affects everyone surrounding it. The teachers, the parents, everyone is affected in some way,” she said. “Every one of us can be a victim of gun violence in some way.”

Tracy Miller of Bend was at Drake Park holding a cardboard sign that said, “Hold congress accountable” and said she believes legislators need to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Miller, a gun owner herself, said passing common sense gun laws is not incompatible with the Second Amendment.

“You can still have the second amendment, a person can still protect themselves and protect their home, they don’t need an automatic weapon to do it,” Miller said. “You don’t hunt with an automatic weapon.”

Miller said she believes there are a lot of gun owners who see the importance of gun reform.

“I do think there are a lot of gun owners now that are starting to look at this and starting to say ‘there is a compromise that we can make, that needs to be made and we need to hold our lawmakers accountable,’” she added.

Hayden Kasal-Barsky, who graduated from Bend High School last year and is now attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa on Oahu, is pursuing a degree in teaching special education. She is back in Bend visiting her family and decided to come to the protest on Saturday to stand in solidarity with victims of gun violence.

“I’m really sick and tired of being a 19 year old, a young person, and just standing around while other people are getting murdered and politicians are calling it a mental health crisis instead of a gun issue,” Kasal-Barsky said.

Kasal-Barsky said recent mass shootings have made her a little uneasy when it comes to going back to school in the fall and she called on the

community to stand with students.

“I am even more scared to go back to school,” she added. “Anyone can get shot at any moment, so just stand with us.”

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Joe Siess is a GA reporter for the Bulletin. Joe previously reported for the Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born and raised in the Kansas City area, and holds a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri.

(4) comments

belleflower

Great to see kids standing up for what they believe in, and organizing in their community. Our community.

Also nice to see the media quoting a gun owner for once, one who isn't a crazy who wants to bring assault weapons into every situation. There is a middle road. I grew up with guns in the house. They were for safety, putting down an injured animal, and hunting. OK maybe my dad waved the shotgun at a neighbor who owed him money, that wasn't smart, but mostly we kept firearms where they belonged.

BuckeyeDuck

"I have not consented to die for your 2nd Amendment rights". An excellent statement along with "I wasn't hired to be a human body shield", stated by a teacher at the Boise March yesterday.

Folks who argue "My 2A rights Uber Alles" seem to argue that the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is superceded by 2A. The kids of Uvalde will never know it

64363

This was a great event and the students who organized it and spoke were very moving. Their lives must take precedence over the so-called right to own assault weapons. Conversations with Juniper Rook and Bend's Brandy Steelhammer of Moms Demand Action can be heard at www.theradicalsongbook.com/something-to-talk-about

75927

Since his election to Congress in 2020, Bentz has voted against expanding background checks and co-sponsored a Republican proposal that would permit anyone allowed to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry it in any other state. Mr. Bentz should be replaced. He represents the big money gun manufacturing lobby. Sickening.

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