More than 100 alumni, students, parents and supporters of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left Coral Spring Friday morning via four buses — identified by number and a Disney character — for the “March for Our Lives” rally in the nation’s capital.
The buses also have six FIU journalism students and two professors along for the ride. As we travel the 20-hour trip, these students will be filing brief pieces describing the happenings on board as well as trying to understand the people and motivations of those involved.
— Dan Evans, South Florida News Service
Fort Pierce, Florida – 2:15 p.m.
Among the parents on the March For Our Lives trip to Washington, was Ingrid Llaverias, mother of an MSD alumnus.
She’s a tax preparer and this is one of the busiest and most lucrative times of the year.
She risked losing long-time clients, to make the ride to DC and take a stand with other parents, alumni and students.
“I think our voices need to be heard louder and they will be heard louder in Washington D.C.,” said Llaverias.
Llaverias is marching for the lives lost, as well as those who are still fighting.
“I’m marching for Anthony Borges. He is still in the hospital, his family could not make it so I am marching in his honor,” said Llaverias.
Borges, a 15-year-old student at MSD, used his body to block a classroom door. He was shot five times, risking his life to save others.
Llaverias compared this march to civil rights protests of the past, saying this might be even bigger.
“A lot of people want to say we have white privilege or Parkland privilege,” she said. “I say we have the privilege of the kids taking it upon themselves to say ‘no more.'”
Llaverias said the rally is not about taking anyone’s Second Amendment rights away.
“This is about making changes so that this does not happen again,” she said. “This is about what’s right and wrong, not if you’re Republican or Democrat.”
— Alondra Bodden, South Florida News Service
Fort Pierce, Florida – 1:50 p.m.
Luis Hernandez, 70, is on the 20-hour bus ride to Washington D.C. because a grandson can’t be.
“We need to support these kids,” he said.
His grandson, also named Luis Hernandez, is a Stoneman Douglas junior. He plays on the school soccer team and is not traveling to D.C. because he’s participating in a tournament over the weekend.
The elder Hernandez remembered the chaotic day the shooting occurred.
“We were waiting for my grandson outside of the school but didn’t know when he was going to come out,” he said. “It was maddening”
Hernandez thinks a massive mobilization of people is crucial for the success of March For Our Lives.
He said it’s harder to deposit $10,000 in the bank than buying an AR-15.
“In the bank they ask you a thousand questions, for buying an AR-15, nothing.”
— Pablo Chillida, South Florida News Service
Fort Pierce, Florida — 1:35 p.m
Tiara Shirley, an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, sat on a bench alone at the first rest stop of the long bus ride to the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC.
This is Shirley’s first bus ride and her first time out of state.
She said the ride is pretty typical: kids in the back chatting while adults sit quietly up front. But the trip is not typical and Shirley knows why she’s on it.
” I think it will be crazy if there’s no change,” she said.
She wasn’t as involved in the #MSDStrong movement because she didn’t know many of the victims of the Parkland shooting. She only went to one funeral of a classmate who she would see at her job.
But, she said she probably wouldn’t attend Grad Bash, an end-of-the-year event when seniors go to Universal Studios in Orlando to celebrate finishing high school.
She said expected to attend with all her classmates, not just some.
— Jessica Armella, South Florida News Service
Fort Pierce, Florida — 1:19 p.m
Ingrid Llaverias is the captain of Bus 3 and the mother of a MSD alumni. She said is marching for Anthony Borges, the last victim still hospitalized from the shooting.
The final row in the back of the bus is occupied by a MSD alumni Nick Longley, who traveled from the University of Central Florida in order to join the march. He took a laptop and government textbook. His spring break ended last week, so he said he hopes to work on some assignments during the 17-hour bus ride.
— Victoria Salas, South Florida News Service
Fort Pierce, Florida — 1:15 p.m
There are approximately 30 people on Bus 3, identified by two white pieces of paper with Goofy taped on the windows.
Most people have two seats to themselves, and a number of people are trying to sleep through the rattle of the bus.
MSD senior Skyler Tauman has spent the first hour and a half of the bus ride attempting to sleep. She borrowed a Minnie Mouse Tsum Tsum pillow from an SFNS reporter, Victoria Salas, and used her light gray coat as her improv blanket. Skyler has never been outside of Florida before.
“I’ve never been to D.C, ” she said with a smile. “I’m excited.”
Behind Skyler is Nicholas Forero, scrunched up into a ball while laying his head against the bus’s window. He is a Piper High School student also trying to sleep. However, Nicholas is using his headphones in order to keep the rickety noise at bay.
— Maria Gil, South Florida News Service
Coral Springs, Florida — 11 a.m.
Awaiting the 20-hour trip to Washington, DC to show the country what Parkland is made of, Ericka Duval said the tragic shooting changed the trajectory of her life.
“I have thought about going into politics now after the tragedy,” said Duval, a junior at Stoneman Douglas.
She said she chose to take a bus with her fellow classmates, withstanding the long drive and the winter weather, instead of going to a local march in sunny South Florida.
“The nation’s capital is where we want our message sent to,” said Duval.
She said the march is not only about the 17 lives lost at Stoneman Douglas, but all other lives lost due to gun violence.
— Alondra Bodden, South Florida News Service
Coral Springs, Florida — 9 a.m.
It’s a cold morning. News crews gather outside Coral Springs Center of the Arts in sweaters, rubbing hands together to stay warm and prepping their mics and notepads. They are waiting for the arrival of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and supporters.
The first arrivals are greeted with cameras and questions. Others form a line and grab a boxed lunch from Subway, say farewell to their parents and begin the 20-hour journey. Other parents climb aboard, joining their children for the march.
— Adrian Nones-Newman, South Florida News Service