Hundreds of residents from around the Valley joined together in downtown North Bend on March 24 for a local March for Our Lives rally organized by the community activist group Snoqualmie Valley Indivisibles.
The rally in North Bend was one of many held across the country to call for increased gun control legislation after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida where 17 high school students were killed in a school shooting in February.
Michelle Straka, one of the organizers of the event, said that they decided to hold their own march in North Bend, instead of attending the larger event in Seattle, because the message felt more relevant to a smaller community where many people own guns.
Straka worked with members of the Snoqualmie Valley chapter of Moms Demand Action, to get the message out for the event. The group crafted press releases and flyers to promote the event and even were able to get actor Nick Offerman, most well known for his role in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” to promote the event on Twitter.
The group gathered at the intersection of Bendigo Boulevard South and West North Bend Way with protest signs waving as cars passed by all morning. Straka said there could have been as many as 400 people at the rally.
“It’s really hard to tell,” she said. “I would not be surprised if someone told me there were 100 of us on every corner.”
The march also featured several speakers including candidates for the 8th Congressional District seat Jason Rittereiser and Kim Schrier, candidate for the 5th Legislative District seat Bill Ramos, and candidate for the the state House of Representatives District 5 seat Lisa Callan. The crowd also heard from two local Mount Si High School students as well as Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson.
Straka said the group’s message was to let their elected representatives know where they stand on the issue of gun control and to dissuade officials from taking donations from the National Rifle Association.
“This particular issue we are asking for results, stop taking NRA money and vote to protect people,” she said. “We are letting the representatives in our district know this is how many people came out to protect children over the NRA.”
Larson said he attended the event to support the effort students putting in to make their voices heard on topics that matter to them. He said that, as a non-partisan mayor, this topic goes beyond political party affiliation and is directly related to the safety of the children and teenagers of the Valley and the country.
“The fact of the matter, this isn’t a conservative or liberal cause, this concerns our children and I’m here to support their voice and encourage their voices to rise,” he said.
Aside from a few dissenting drivers who passed by, Straka said the group received a ton of support throughout their time on the street that day. Larson also made note that despite some drivers opposed to the rally’s message making rude comments and gestures to the crowd, “it was a very civil crowd with a lot of positive energy.”
In addition to the rally, multiple voter registration tables were set up on location to provide attendees a chance to register for the upcoming mid-term election in November.
“The mid-terms coming up will be such a fantastic indicator,” Straka said. “Rallies don’t change laws, rallies are to show everybody these are the things that are possible, but you have to vote that way if you want to make it happen.”