With a rallying cry of "Not one more," organizers have high hopes for the Saturday, March 24, March For Our Lives rally in Boise, one of thousands of cities staging protests in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, killing 17 students and staff. After the shooting, students from the school planned a MFOL rally in Washington, D.C., but it has expanded to include cities across world.
"These kids are so passionate, so amazing. I had no idea how articulate these students are. I think that's the thing that surprised me the most," said Jessi Huizinga, a MFOL organizer and mother of three. "These events across the nation, including the one here, are all being organized by students. A few of us parents found each other online and said we wanted to see if we could help."
Those attending the rallies will call upon elected leaders to "take action on strengthening gun legislation to make it harder for individuals to obtain weapons to carry out these attacks," according to an official statement. Huizinga said it's critical to note the event is non-partisan.
"We have to drive home the fact that this is not political. We invited Democrats, Republicans, independents, everyone. We've got to come together," she said. "Yes, it's a complex issue, but I think we can all agree that something has to change."
The March 24 event follows a similar demonstration on the steps of the Statehouse March 14, when nearly 1,000 students from schools around the Treasure Valley staged a walkout and marched to the Capitol. Thousands of students throughout Idaho walked out of their classrooms for 17 minutes in remembrance of the people killed in Parkland.
"Each and every one of you can make a change that can move mountains," said Colette Raptosh, 17, a senior at Capital High School and an organizer of the Boise walkout who addressed the assembled crowd March 14.
BW heard from a number of students from across the Treasure Valley, each echoing Raptosh's sentiment:
"We achieve as much as we aim for. As long as we remember that, we can make a change in our community," said Felix, an eighth grader.
"I think it's important that we can show up for things and exercise our rights. Young people aren't going to back down. We are the future," said Tacet, a high school junior.
"I came out here to let people know students have a voice," said Zoe, a junior.
"I don't remember a time in history when more weapons meant more peace and protection," said Acey, a senior who spoke from the podium.
"We have to do something about these laws. It's our world now," said Gillian, a junior.
At the headquarters of the Boise Independent School District, officials told Boise Weekly guns have no place on school campuses, though some lawmakers support placing firearms in the hands of educators.
"Our Board of Education has taken a position that we do not support arming teachers. We hire our teachers to teach," said Boise School Superintendent Don Coberly.
Assistant Superintendent Coby Dennis said demonstrations like those at the Idaho Statehouse are important because "it's all about honoring our students' voices to be heard."
"It's about giving students an opportunity," he added.
Meanwhile, organizers of the March 24 demonstration expect an even greater level of participation, considering the event is on a Saturday.
"It's spring break. Some people may be leaving town for the break, but even more people will be coming into town because of Treefort [Music Fest]," said Huizinga. "We're even talking to Treefort organizers to see if some live musical talent can join us," she said, adding that Lyft will offer free rides to the demonstration.
"It's an upbeat event," said Huizinga. "That said, this is a call to our leaders to do something instead of waiting for the next terrible incident to occur. We've got some passionate students who need to be heard. They've really taken this issue to heart."