March for Our Lives draws crowd downtown

WINCHESTER – The March for Our Lives in the city drew hundreds of people who called for tighter control on guns in the wake of school shootings nationwide.

WINCHESTER – The March for Our Lives in the city drew hundreds of people who called for tighter control on guns in the wake of school shootings nationwide.

Crowds gathered downtown to hear speakers, several of them area high school students, as well as candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District in November. The Winchester Young Democrats, which consists of high school Democratic organizations from the city as well as Frederick and Clarke counties, organized the event along with Indivisible Winchester.  The local chapter of Moms Demand Action also participated in the rally and march.

Speakers led the crowds in chants of “enough is enough” and “vote them out” before the participants marched around the downtown mall, holding signs in the air. Many people called for U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock’s ouster in the next election over the Republican congresswoman’s support for gun rights and her friendly relationship with the National Rifle Association.

Sherando High School students Ian Hogendobler, John Miles and AnnMarie Kelly, and Patrick Northrop, a Millbrook High School student and leader of the Winchester Young Democrats, called for action during their speeches.

After the rally and march, Hogendobler, a co-leader of the Sherando High School Young Democrats, reflected on the event. He voted in the last election after turning 18 in October.

“Obviously I’m passionate about the issue,” Hogendobler said. “If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t be here. I really feel like our generation can make a change.

“With the advancement in technology that our generation has pioneered and, let’s be real, we use our phones a lot. I’m not gonna pretend like we don’t. … But we are using that technology to our advantage” he said. “We are getting the message out to people who wouldn’t normally see it. We are getting the message out to those young people and I think that is very important that I don’t think a lot of people realize is, sure, people have your views and you share them but they need to be inspired. They need to be fired up if they’re going to make a change.”

Northrop said he felt good about the turnout.

“We’re really excited with how many people showed up, and it’s really awesome to have this platform and how many people came out and supported this and we’re hoping it doesn’t end today, that people continue the fight for common sense gun reform and either pressuring their representatives or getting new officials elected into office,” he said. “So we will be that change this election cycle, so a lot of people are really motivated and excited.”

Miles, a leader of the Young Democrats at Sherando High School, reminded the crowd: “We’re not just in Winchester. We are in Parkland. We are in Columbine. We are in Sandy Hook. We are in Virginia Tech. We are in Las Vegas. We are flooding the streets of Washington and piling onto the steps of Congress, crying out that we have had enough. Enough is enough.”

During her speech, Kelly urged people to register to vote.

“We must remember that we are united and we are determined, and we must register to vote,” she said. “We must make a change, and we must be the change.”