Pines Boulevard was filled today with around 1,000 people chanting gun control slogans and waving signs while cars honked their horns in support of the March For Our Lives sibling marches in Pembroke Pines.
But they wouldn’t be there if not for the passion of one young person.
Valentina Rueda, a student at Broward College, was inspired when she realized there wasn’t a rally planned in her city. She organized her own march with the help of her family and friends.
“I am completely wowed by my city, by Pembroke Pines, by all the support I’ve received,” said Rueda before the rally began.
Ryann Greenberg, a mother of two and friend of Rueda’s who helped organize the event, said young people are well-suited to take on the responsibility of changing gun laws in this country.
“It’s important that our younger generation plans this because it’s not a partisan issue,” she said. “This affects everybody, and we need to make sure they take up the mantle of this issue.”
Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank C. Ortis, who was present at the protest, said he was impressed by youths taking charge in the gun reform movement.
“I was one of the first signers for ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns,'” he said. “We have to get this country back under control. The City of Pembroke Pines did not organize this event. Valentina and her group, they all have credit for it.”
Army veteran Tim Whitaker was drafted when he was 18 and served from 1969 to 1971. He said guns were used differently back then.
“You don’t need an assault weapon to kill a rabbit,” he said. “Students are not the enemies.”
Brayden O’Connor, 7, said students feel scared when they practice fire drills at school. He said that President Donald Trump must listen to the children.
The marchers started at Charles F. Dodge City Center and continued along Pines Boulevard, where marchers stopped on Hiatus Road and made a U-turn back to the city center for the rally.
The concluding ceremony included a musical performance and speeches from city officials, students and a local author.
Local band Heart & Soul played “Shine,” a song written by drama students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and “Rise Up” by recording artist Andra Day. Both were sung by Pines Charter High School student Marcella Osorio.
Author H.S. Crow, a Plantation native who served in the Marines, addressed the crowd.
“The dead will not rest until we succeed,” he said. “We need this country to band together for this to not happen again. May our voices be heard for years to come.”