An estimated 200 people huddled under the shade of pop-up tents and a large tree to hear from residents, local officials, and a candidate for Congress Saturday morning at a March For Our Lives rally at Frances Stevens Park.
At issue: The local rally was one of roughly 400 held across the country. The events were organized to draw attention to issues surrounding the country’s gun violence epidemic. Multiple recent mass shootings, including one that claimed the lives of 19 students in Texas, motivated organizers.
- The Palm Springs rally was organized by The Desert Stonewall Democrats and the Democratic Headquarters of the Desert.
- Instead of marching like other cities did, organizers made the wise decision to hold a rally instead as temperatures climbed close to 100 degrees by 9:30 a.m.
Zoom in: Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner, and Will Rollins, the Democratic candidate for the newly drawn 41st Congressional District, all spoke.
What they said: Garner spoke the words on most attendee’s minds, saying, “I’m tired of these events. I’m really tired.” She pushed through emotions to tell the crowd about a time her best friend was involved in a mass shooting 15 years ago.
- “I watched the news and saw my friend wheeled out of a nightclub on a stretcher. And it just continues to happen.”
A warning: All speakers urged residents not to get complacent and to realize gun violence happens everywhere, including here.
- Garner: “In 2020, two of our teenaged residents were murdered by gun violence within weeks of each other just here in District 1 in the Desert Highlands Community.” A third teen died shortly after.
Beyond ballot box: Garner asked the audience to think about reaching youth in the community with programs in order to prevent them from getting caught up in the cycle of violence.
- She specifically mentioned Palm Springs-based Building Resilience in African-American Families as a program that has proven to work. She said individuals could also volunteer to mentor young people, or start a paid internship program where they work.
But still: Several speakers emphasized the importance of voting out politicians who refuse to enact any gun safety legislation or who are supported by the NRA. Even with Democratic control of the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate, two Democratic Senators refuse to get rid of the 60-vote filibuster.
- “That’s probably my biggest frustration,” said David Weiner, chair of the Desert Stonewall Democrats. “Many in Democratic leadership aren’t pushing hard enough to eliminate the filibuster, so we can’t do anything to protect a woman’s right to choose, protect people’s right to vote, or enact common sense gun legislation.”
Bottom line: Weiner had advice for frustrated Californians who want to effect change in battleground states: Head to the Democratic Headquarters of the Desert in Cathedral City and get connected to volunteer to help campaigns in states like Florida or Texas.