A Look Ahead at March for Our Lives in CT

Frank Blackwell, of Guilford, Conn., went to the women’s march last year in New York, and when he heard about the shooting in Parkland, Florida, he thought that it was time to march again.

Before Parkland, the Guilford community was dealing with its own heartache, when a 15-year-old boy died from a gunshot, in a case currently being investigated by police. A vigil was held in the town for the boy, but Blackwell decided not to go.

“I tend not to go to things like that. I have children of my own and the vision of it happening to them is too strong,” he said.

But, then, he had a change of heart.

“The next day, I was thinking to myself that I should have gone, or I should have gotten involved and I should have gone there and shown my support for the family who lost a child,” he said. “I think that’s what made this step forward and say, ‘You know what? I’m going to try to organize something.’”

Blackwell had the idea early on a Monday, he recalls, and was on the phone with town hall that afternoon to start the planning. That day, he estimated that he would have maybe 50 people there. Three days before the march was set to happen, he estimated that there could be between 1,500 and 3,000 attendees.

Blackwell did much of his recruitment through social media and partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety to officially organize, and has been raising money on GoFundMe.

March for Our Lives started in the wake of the Parkland shooting by survivors of the tragic incident. Blackwell gives credit to the students behind the movement, saying that they deserve respect for being articulate and passionate about the issue.

“This is a movement that started with a gun blast in a hallway,” he said. “Seventeen students were killed in the classroom and the survivors came out and spoke articulately about what happened to them in their school.”

Blackwell, a gun owner, said he believes in the right for someone to own a firearm. He argues that the problem lies with gun safety, and that a “do-nothing Congress” refuses to take up the issue. He worries about his own family’s safety.

“I have a grandchild who sits in kindergarten class, and when she sits in kindergarten class, I’m worried somebody’s going to kick open the door and shoot her,” Blackwell said.

While he considers himself progressive, he hopes that people will come to the march with a sign and read the signs of others in attendance.

“I’m telling everyone to write what they think on a sign and come to this event Saturday and show everybody what they wrote on their sign and read what everyone else wrote on theirs,” he said.

The march will be just under a mile, starting at the Guilford Green at 12:30 p.m. and will travel up Whitfield St. and back. Speakers at the event include U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), state representatives, poets, musicians, and local high school students.