Baltimore students plan their own March for Our Lives from City Hall on March 24

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Students march to City Hall in the “#GunsDownGradesUP” pro-gun control protest on March 6. Photo by J.M. Giordano.

Some Baltimore students aren’t planning to jump on Mayor Catherine Pugh’s bus brigade to D.C. in a couple weeks for the national March for Our Lives, instead opting to host their own march here starting at City Hall.

The gathering, dubbed “March for Our Lives Baltimore” in a flyer disseminating online, would begin at 10 a.m. at 100 Holliday Street, and run until noon, which is when organizers expect they would reach Little Havana at the edge of the Inner Harbor.

The March for Our Lives movement aims for families around the country to “take to the streets to demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and that we end gun violence in our schools and communities,” according to the national website. The pro-gun control protests—nearly 700 of them are planned around the country, as of Monday afternoon—were inspired by the horrific Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students dead and 14 others wounded.

As first reported by WBAL, Poly student Anna Hilger, who helped found the school’s Student Activist Association, is helping to organize the Baltimore march. She told Baltimore Fishbowl she initially planned to join other students in D.C., but was inspired to keep the demonstration here after reading USA Today‘s article that awarded Baltimore the title of “the nation’s most dangerous city.”

“I said, ‘Well, if USA Today is saying that we have all this gun violence, I think Baltimore is almost at a higher risk,” she said. “Why not just do it here to show we need to unite together to get rid of gun violence nationally, but also to show that it’s not OK here, too.”

Last week, after hundreds of students from Baltimore’s public and private schools banded together to march downtown for the #GunsDownGradesUP protest, Mayor Catherine Pugh greeted them and, without being asked to do so by students, offered to bus thousands of them down to D.C. for the March 24 protest on the National Mall. Pugh has said the effort would require 60 buses and, together with t-shirts and lunch, would cost about $100,000, according to The Sun.

The mayor has said she’s appealing to private donors to help cover the costs, and stuck with that plan while debating the merits of her idea on the air with Fox News pundit Laura Ingraham.

Hilger has reached out to students from other high schools–from City College to the Park School to Pikesville to Roland Park, among others–to participate, she said. She’s also trying to team up with local activists and groups, including, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), for the rally. Her hope is that Baltimore will offer a more accessible alternative to participants than traveling to D.C. on March 24.

A GoFundMe campaign started by Hilger last week seeks to raise $1,000 for unspecified costs for the Baltimore march. She said the money would cover the $235 cost of a permit for a demonstration, as well as a stage, a chorus, a banner and t-shirts for participants. So far the campaign has drawn $165 from donors.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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