Some 450 people walked about two miles along U.S. Highway 98 from Liza Jackson to Fort Walton Landing for the local March for Our Lives demonstration.
FORT WALTON BEACH — People of all ages gathered at Liza Jackson Park on Saturday for the local March for Our Lives demonstration.
The march was organized to demand gun control and advocate for students' safety in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 people.
Some 450 people walked about two miles along U.S. Highway 98 from Liza Jackson to Fort Walton Landing.
“Both my husband and I are marching for our grandchildren," Karla Lindsley said. "We have three granddaughters, two that are in elementary school and one that was just born. We’re marching for them.”
Roxanne Daniel, an 18-year-old student at Fort Walton Beach High School and one of the march's organizers, sold T-shirts to the walkers.
“I believe that youth organization and mobilization in terms of speaking for ourselves and using our voices is absolutely integral to our current political climate,” Daniel said. “Especially when we have things like the tragedy in Parkland, we need to be able to speak up for our lives, and this protest shows the world that we have a voice.”
Choctawhatchee High School junior Sofia Louah texted her friend and fellow march organizer Baili Pettet one day after the Parkland shooting.
“I told her I was actually scared to be here at school. I’ve had so much anxiety about it. She came over to my house one day and Baili said we should start a march,” Louah said.
The Stoneman Douglas survivors announced a few days later that they would organize a March for Our Lives.
“The timing was perfect; it couldn’t have worked out better,” Pettet said. "We’re so excited to be here. Honestly, this is the biggest day of my life so far. Just to see it happen and see so many people supporting us is amazing.”
The crowd continued to grow at Liza Jackson before the march kicked off at 10:15 a.m. with an escort from the Fort Walton Beach Police Department.
“Hopefully, this march sends the message that gun reform needs to happen and that the NRA (National Rifle Association) as a business shouldn’t have a hand in government,” said Jared Brock, a student at Northwest Florida State College. “Despite our differences, we’re still countrymen, and those that support the NRA still want the same thing, which is safety for the kids."