By Sarah Jung-mi Brown
Photo taken at the March for Our Lives Protest in Oakland, California on Saturday, March 24, 2018.
In the wake of violence, I found hope. These days in America, it seems like every other day we wake up to a new story that cuts a fresh wound. Yet yesterday, I felt a weight had lifted. At the March for Our Lives rally in Oakland on March 24, I felt that I was part of something much larger than myself. It was refreshing to see teachers, students, and families joining together to fight senseless gun slaughter in our country. At some moments, I almost forgot that we had gathered for a solemn reason. I laughed out loud as elementary school children chanted “Arms are for hugging,” as they darted through the large crowd marching to Lake Merritt. Even tiny dogs were wearing anti-gun signs taped to their backs.
Besides a variety of people, there were a variety of messages. Bay Area residents added their own unique complexity to the anti-gun statement. A young poet recited a stirring poem she had written about police violence and gun violence. Others cheered as young students who did not yet have the right to vote encouraged others to exercise their right to do so. Protesters carried one-of-a-kind signs in a colorful show-and-tell.
At one point, my ears perked as I heard an Oakland Unified School District staff member speak about restorative solutions! I loved to hear restorative justice mentioned in this context. It reminded me that I was enhancing and strengthening a resolution to have a restorative approach towards life by being present at the rally. Powerful gun lobbies have harmed countless innocent people in our country, and it’s time to hold them accountable. The brave young people involved in March for Our Lives have become the restorative mediators that will lead the way to healing and accountability in the U.S. Let’s continue to join and support them as they welcome healing in our nation.
Sarah Jung-mi Brown is an RJ Student Leader and graduate student at UC Berkeley's School of Social Welfare.