Fort Collins community rallies for ‘March for Our Lives’

Meagan Stackpool

Video by Chapman Croskell

Protesters filled Old Town, Fort Collins March 24 to advocate for gun reform, following the Parkland, Florida shooting in which 17 people were killed.

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Fort Collins for Progress hosted the event, with groups like Moms Demand Action and the League of Women Voters showing up in support. Hundreds of people held signs protesting the National Rifle Association, assault rifles and Sen. Cory Gardner. 

A variety of speakers took to the stage in Old Town Square. Freshmen in high school, teachers and parents pushed for the crowd to take action with chants like,”No more guns in schools,” and “Resist, persist, agitate.”

A girl moves her hands while speaking into a microphone.
Ella Jensen, a 15-year-old freshman at Rocky Mountain High School, speaks on gun reform issues at the March for Our Lives rally on March 24. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Ella Jensen, a freshman at Rocky Mountain High School and a speaker at the event, emphasized the power each individual has to sway the government if they get involved. 

“Thoughts and prayers do not stop bullets,” Jensen said during her speech.

In an interview with The Collegian following her speech, she urged students to get involved.

“(They) have the ability to do so much more than (they think) they do,” Jensen said. “(They should) seize every opportunity (that they) have.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) was heavily discussed at the event. At one point, the crowd chanted his phone number in hopes more people would call and raise their voice. Protesters expressed heavy frustration with Sen. Gardner’s affiliation with the NRA and campaign funding from gun lobbyists. 

The rally coincided with rallies all across the country, as well as the march in Denver. Saturday was the Democratic Assembly for Larimer County, so rally officials decided to host a secondary event in Northern Colorado to allow for more people to come.

Andrew Boesenecker, a speaker at the event, father and former teacher, expressed the need for conversations. 

“For folks in Northern Colorado, this is a really present issue and it’s important that we have events that reflect what our community values,” Boesenecker said. 

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(Students) have done more in five weeks than we have voted on in years.” Paula Montgomery, former teacher.

Fort Collins was not the only town in attendance. Veterans for Peace chapter contact Nancy Sindelar from Laramie, Wyo. said she came in support of common sense gun reform.

“Every country we have gone to war in, we have destroyed schools, we have killed children (saying they’re) collateral damage,” Sindelar said. “It’s coming home.”

The League of Women Voters had a booth in the middle of Old Town Square urging those 16 years of age or older to register to vote.

Linda Thomas, a voter registration organizer for Larimer County, said she just wants kids to vote.

“We really want to make sure they know have a place they know they can go … (to get) information about the candidates … to learn more and get educated,” Thomas said, also saying her organization was non-partisan. “It empowers them.”

With similar rallies going on across the country, people said they hoped they would elicit real change.

Paula Montgomery, a former teacher said the rally gave her hope.

“(Students) have done more in five weeks than we have voted on in years” Montgomery said, also saying that the passion of the young people reminded her why she loved teaching high school.

The student-led rally received widespread support. Protesters commented that they were in awe that students had started such a large national movement, and supported it locally as well. 

Reid Hayhow, father of two, spoke about the drive behind the younger generation and the rallies planned. 

“It is absolutely amazing to see the younger generation coming into their own and taking leadership,” Hayhow said. “I think really it has been that they are driving this and that adults have gotten out of the way, the responsible people have gotten out of the way, that actually is giving this a lot of its power and drive and energy—I am thrilled.”

Collegian reporter Meagan Stackpool can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MeaganStackpool