Voices from the “March for Our Lives” in Albuquerque

Thousands of students, teachers and community members came out on Saturday in Albuquerque for the March for Our Lives rally. Survivors led a rally in Washington DC, and Albuquerque’s event was one of many held across the country in response to last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

New Mexico student organizers emphasized the importance of hearing from young people who represent the diversity of New Mexico, including Native Americans, African Americans, and the LGBTQ community. The organizers encouraged young people turning 18 this year to register to vote.

Elysia Choudhrie (top right), 6th grade students at Rehoboth Christian School – I was scared of the filming in Aztec because I always thought it was in big places. In my eyes, New Mexico isn’t that big, so it kind of scared me.

Maggi Vandrunen (top left), a 7th grade student currently in home school – I think starting with assault weapons would probably be a good place to start. And if the problem persists, we can focus on other problems.

Cameron Heath, UNM student (pictured with sister Kate Heath, 6th grade student at LBJ Middle School) – I want to protest the violence and make sure we can get our voices across. It is important for young people across the country to be aware of what is going on and to present our voice out there in a peaceful way.

Marc Comstsock, Actors and Parents – I’m with my 8 month old daughter Violet. It kind of breaks my heart that she is growing up in a generation where she has to have active shooter practice. If we just watch these parents grieve lately, it is time to speak up and say something and try to push for change and support these children who lead us.

Jonathon Alonzo (Center), a sophomore at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) and lead organizer – I got involved because as a young man of color I see my close friends or even relatives lose their lives to suicide or the street Violence quite often. Gun violence doesn’t look like school shootings to us, but street violence and suicides. And these voices deserve to be represented here because even though young brown and black children are killed on our streets every week – they don’t get rallies from thousands of people, they don’t collect millions of dollars in days, they don’t get a CNN City Hall . And they deserve to be represented here and they deserve justice.

Zoey Craft (top left), Junior at La Cueva High School and Chief Organizer – I decided to get involved because I was in group chats with friends who were scared of going to school, especially after filming the Parkland. We discussed, ‘Are we going to school tomorrow? Is it safe? ‘APS schools were threatened. And I think it felt like it affected us directly.

(Also pictured above: Blair Dixon, Newcomer to UNM and main organizer)

Ethan Torres, Health Leadership High School student – The message I wanted to get across is that not only do we LGBTQ and people of color get such attacks, but we are also scared. I just wanted to let everyone know that we’re here with them too. We feel them and know what they are going through.

Ella-kari Loftfield (top left), high school history teacher – I came out today because I feel like some kind of false dichotomy has been made that either no guns are allowed or no rules are allowed. And I feel like in society, if we allow people to polarize, we can’t find anything in common.

Riazullah “Riaz” Alkozai, Senior Highland High School – I escaped from a war zone in Afghanistan and I’m here. I don’t want this place to be a war zone like it is in Afghanistan. America is supposed to be a place, a leader, a peaceful country. For me I live here and I think it’s my second home. I go to school and that’s why it’s important that I do my best to keep things from happening.

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