Pinellas teens plan 'March for Our Lives'

- After 17 people lost their lives in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a group of Pinellas County students is demanding action from lawmakers.

They're calling themselves "We The Students." And they've taken the lead in organizing Saturday's March For Our Lives in St. Petersburg, part of a national movement calling for an end to gun violence and mass school shootings.

Monday night, a dozen kids from different Pinellas County schools sat around a meeting table, planning logistics for Saturday's march, talking permits, sharing ideas and solidifying their mission to make Parkland the last school shooting in their lifetimes.

These kids say it's time for change.

"We saw Sandy Hook, which were little babies, and going 'OK, that's enough,'" said Kayla Dixon, a Countryside High School junior.  "Then, Pulse happened. 'OK, this is for sure enough.' But then, when you're coming to a high school and relating it to kids your own age, especially kids in Florida here, that's pretty close to home."

They started as #Pinellas4Parkland, a group of students from around the county putting their heads together. From there, they created a non-profit known as We The Students.

"We the students," Dixon said, reading the mission statement at the meeting, "in order to breed a safer society, are advocating for common-sense gun control and awareness for the movement to prevent gun abuse while highlighting the importance of mental health resources and racial acceptance."

Monday night, they discussed their mission and firmed up plans for Saturday's March For Our Lives in St. Petersburg. It's a branch of the main national event in Washington D.C., expected to have half a million in attendance.

The official March For Our Lives website says, "We support the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution. But with that right comes responsibility."

They're urging Congress to pass laws ending the sale of high-capacity magazines, assault rifles, and to strengthen background checks.

While the city of St. Pete agreed to waive thousands of dollars in permitting fees, the students are still relying on a GoFundMe page to pay for things like port-a-potties, a sound system and a stage.

"Sergeant Pratt estimated an amount of 50 officers so it's going to be a very safe area," said Osceola Fundamental High School junior Madison Vogel as she went over St. Pete police presence.

They've enlisted Congressman Charlie Crist and Mayor Rick Kriseman to speak.  Kriseman said in a statement, “Though I am proud that these young people are taking a stand against gun violence, I am sorry that there is a need for it to begin with. The inaction from Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. Is inexcusable, and it’s my sincere hope that the elected leaders there will hear the voices of the students at March For Our Lives. I am pleased and honored to march with them.”

Dixon said, "This is not a red thing or a blue thing or left or right thing. This is just a human experience that we all need to come together to stop."

No parties, no politics, they say. These teens just want all students to go to school and come home alive.

"What those students experienced," Vogel said, "seeing their friends die, I can't even begin to imagine what that was ever like and I don't want any student to ever have to imagine what that was like."

The March For Our Lives - Pinellas County will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, beginning at Poynter Park in St. Petersburg. There are also marches taking place in Tampa, Lakeland, Bradenton and several other local cities.

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