PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Layla Alves used red and blue markers to color in a handwritten sign on poster board: “You fear we’ll take your guns; we fear you’ll take our friend.”
She’ll bring the sign on a bus Friday night, traveling along with 34 other students from the Met High School in Providence to Washington, D.C. overnight. The group will participate in the March for Our Lives Saturday, a student-led demonstration for gun control laws, organized in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month.
“I couldn’t imagine losing my friend, never mind 17 of them,” Alves told Eyewitness News. “It could’ve been us.”
The students, clad in matching orange T-shirts, prepared signs on Friday afternoon with powerful messages like: “Am I next?”
“You never know where it can happen,” said Marilyn Resto, the student who made the sign.
Many of the students are not yet old enough to vote, making do for now with their voices. Malitey Mullings, who is 17, said this was a chance to fight for legislation that seems like common sense to her.
“At 18 we’re not even allowed to drink,” Mullings said. “So if we’re not allowed to drink, why should we be able to fire a gun?”
She questioned why responsible gun owners would not be on board with the changes.
“I think a lot of people who have a problem with this movement…think that we’re trying to take away something from them,” Mullings said. “When really, it’s just about making sure people who shouldn’t have them, not have them.”
Another group of about 100 students from the Providence Student Union are also traveling overnight to Washington to join the march, which was organized by Stoneman Douglas students just days after they survived the mass shooting.
Some the victims’ families, along with surviving shooting victims, traveled on the New England Patriots plane to get to Washington for the march. Patriots Owner Robert Kraft donated the plane, sending it to Fort Lauderdale to pick up the passengers. The plane will return on Sunday.
With thousands of young people converging on the capital city, Alves said she hopes this shooting will be the one that finally leads to change.
“We all hope that it will be different this time,” Alves said. “And I think it will be. The fact that it’s more youth standing up now and making a difference. Because we are the next generation.”