Common themes intertwined from the Marchers who came to support the students during the March for Our Lives in Wausau. About 200 people joined student organizers on the 400 Block in Downtown Wausau to remember the 17 students who died February 14th at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Anna Klieber, one of the organizers from Wausau West, spoke about growing up with social media and technology. It is a way to stay connected. She also sees the harm that social media can do. Anna spoke about Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors of the shooting, and reiterated one of the themes: “Enough is Enough! Never again.”

Anna doesn’t feel safe while in school and her generation, Generation Z, is “fed up with politics.” She is fighting because “she has to.” She is calling out the BS about thoughts and prayers. Republicans are afraid of the young people and their words.

Anna and others her age may not be able to vote and asks: “Why shouldn’t I care about what is happening in the world around me? I live here too.” Anna asked: “My question is though, how many more kids need to die before we do something about stronger gun laws?” “We may not be able to vote for the change we want, but under our first amendment rights we certainly can speak out about it.”

Anna quoted Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Anna wants to be that change and hopes others “will stand alongside my generation to be that change too, because we aren’t just marching for change. We are marching for our lives.”

Emily Sanders, another organizer from Wausau West, said she has a hard time going to school now. She loves school and finds it difficult to say goodbye to her mother in the morning wondering if she will ever see her again. She is fearful because she has two more years of high school and worries about the students’ safety. She relives the carnage and the horrific sights of another mass shooting.

Backpacks are being taken away. Schools are revamping building security, but those measures don’t address the main issue. Emily said, “It’s all about the guns.” Emily believes owning a gun is a privilege. She wants stricter gun laws and an assault weapons ban. Revamping building safety does not adequately address the issue—guns were designed to kill.

Emily called out legislators saying they are accepting “blood money” and have “blood on their hands.” Politicians’ lives aren’t in danger and they continue to protect the money they receive from the NRA and not the lives of the students. Politicians are abusing their power.

Mayor Robert Mielke of Wausau thanked the students for their positive message and congratulated them. Students demand action. Mayor Mielke outlined proactive steps taken by the Wausau Police Department and the Wausau School District that includes school resource officers in the two high schools and the middle schools. The officers work with the Big Brothers-Big Sisters Program.

Mayor Mielke encourages all of us to love and support one another—to seek peace and safety through communication.

Alderwoman Lisa Rasmussen joined the March with her son, Ryan, who is a student at John Muir. Lisa attended to celebrate the kids across America who are coming together. The young people are braver than the elected officials. The March is a “civics lesson in action.” The students are standing up for what they believe in. Adults must stand with them, use their voices and vote!

Elected officials refused to do anything after Sandy Hook. Lisa believes the dialogue must change. Lisa reiterated one of the themes: Enough is Enough.

Ryan spoke about the impacts of an active shooter drill: get down, lock the door, lights off, stay out of sight and quiet. These drills can last for quite a long time until the all-clear signal is given.

Lisa and Ryan want universal background checks and a waiting period implemented.

Assemblyman Pat Snyder of the 85th District, Senator Jerry Petrowski of the 29th, and Congressman Sean Duffy did not join with the students, who are their constituents, to show their support.

Sensible gun safety legislation was introduced in the Assembly on February 20, 2018. Students spoke at a Capitol Press Conference before the votes. Lydia Hester, a sophomore at Madison East High School asked “Why aren’t we protected?” “We have been fed up for years but the Florida shooting was the last straw. We need stronger laws to protect us.”

The students supported sensible gun safety legislation that included “universal background checks, prohibit individuals convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing a firearm, and prohibit bump stocks.” Sadly, these safety measures did not pass the Republican controlled state legislature.

In a nod to what the NRA wants, armed guards in every school in the country, the Republicans added language that would create a state program to fund armed guards in schools.

Anna Motoviloff, a Madison East High School Junior, said at the press conference before the vote, “The incompetence of legislators who are bought out by the NRA has barred us from change that is long overdue.” Once again, the voices of the students and others who support sensible gun safety legislation were ignored.

Part II will include more “Voices” from the March for Our Lives in the next issue of Middle Wisconsin.