That Valentine’s Day, just more than a year ago, 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were killed. Seventeen others were injured. It had a profound impact on Hogg and many others in the school.
That group has spread across the country, urging gun violence prevention measures. On Saturday, Utah’s chapter of the group held an event at the Ladies Literary Club Clubhouse, 850 E. South Temple, to celebrate gun reform victories and to raise money for future advocacy.
Through a silent auction and ticket sales, the group exceeded its goal and raised more than $4,500. Art Access, a Salt Lake City nonprofit group that wants to build an inclusive arts community through “creative opportunities” for people who are disabled or otherwise marginalized in society, will get 10% of the proceeds. The rest will go toward funding the March For Our Lives Utah chapter, covering trainings, transportation and clerical costs, like maintaining its P.O. Box and website.
The funds will also be used for suicide prevention training and scholarships for student activists who are in need, said organizer Elizabeth “Lizzy” Estrada-Murillo.
Before the speakers at the gala, people moved through crowds in the historic venue to mingle, or bid at the silent auction, or take a photo in the photo booth or grab dinner and a drink. Two men stood across the street protesting as bouncy background music pulsed softly indoors.
It was on posters that listed the names of Americans killed in mass shootings last year: Adrian Jashawn, Xavier Parish, Freddy Wheeler, and on and on and on. It was the #NeverAgain scrawled at the bottom of signs for the photo booth, next to feather boas and comically oversized sunglasses.
Estrada-Murillo summed up the event as it wound down and the group prepared to announce the silent auction winners: “This is a real issue for us. For all of us, this a life-or-death situation."
Biskupski told organizers she was impressed and inspired by their efforts to reform gun laws in Utah, and said the student activists follow in a long tradition of other young people who got things done, from the civil rights activists who fought for equity at lunch counters and on buses, to the students at East High School in Salt Lake City who two decades ago fought for a Gay/Straight Alliance.