Hundreds supporting gun violence legislation gathered below the steps of Portland’s City Hall after noon to state their cases in favor of gun violence protections for students and our democracy. Speaker after speaker represented a wide variety of professions across the state of Maine, including health care professionals and teachers as well as parents of children who are threatened by the lack of school protections endorsed by the Republican party.
Just after noon many hundreds who had gathered at Lincoln Park marched down Pearl Street and then came back up to city hall’s Ganley plaza where they heard: “In America we are famous for forgetting crises if we aren’t affected personally,” said Elaine Shamas, a public health professional. “No one is after your precious f——– guns. People are responsible for registering their cars where they live. I’ve never heard anyone say – now they are after my car,” she said. In between the seven speakers, a unison chorus erupted from the crowd: VOTE THEM OUT!
Krysten Gorivan a former second grade teacher and now an Education Professor at UNE, asked politicans: Have you ever talked students through a panic attack or figured out who are your strongest students so they can help you rearrange clasroom furniture to protect students should that be necessary? Have you had to do that she queried Senators Collins, Cruz and Rubio? The unison chorus of VOTE THEM OUT erupted again and again over the hour long rally at city hall.
“We are one of over 450 marches all over the country. The last time we marched was after the Parkland shooting and it was the biggest March ever in D.C. But nothing has changed. I am hopeful things will change this time. We have momentum. More and more people of different stripes are getting involved, including businesses,” said Amy Simpson, one of the organizers of todays event in Portland.
Back at Lincoln Park Kristen Kucera, said: “I’m here for my kids. My kids became afraid to go to school after the killngs at Sandy Hook. My daughter is a junior in high school and she is still afraid to go to school.”
“We didn’t get all of our training to be teachers in order to carry weapons and make a school zone feel like a prison,” said Ken Kattasi, who teaches at Bonny Eagle Middle School. “A lot of community members have been saying they don’t trust us with any decisions about our students. But those same people are saying teachers should be armed,” said Kerrie Lattari, wife of Ken and a teacher as well.
“I am shocked and appalled by the amount of gun violence in the United States,’ said mental health counselor Daniel Dranetz. He was in charge of a table at the Park with three different petitions where he was obtaining signatures from those anxious about gun violence in this country. “I didn’t have enough signaure pages. I had to draw in more lines on the backside of the pages.” he said about the response from ralliers who had gathered in the Park before heading to city hall. “I’m pretty cynical about change in D.C. I am more hopeful for changes at the state level. Even here in Maine there are no universal background checks. We would benefit from red flag laws that don’t currently exist here. Right now someone can intimidate and threaten another person and police can’t take away his weapon, ” Dranetz said.
Karin Leuthy, founder of Suit up Maine, said that she has been working on getting common sense gun laws passed for a long time. “To be honest, I’m cynical,” she said. “…in the past 25 years that Susan Collins has been in the Senate, she hasn’t cast a single vote that’s led to the passage of a new or improved gun safety law. Not one. What she has done is help pass laws that give immunity to gun manufacturers. And she helped repeal a rule that prohibited some severely mentally ill people from being able to buy guns. She knows that up to 90% of Americans want universal background checks. 90%. Do you know what else has 90% favorability by Americans? Social security. The Postal Service. Free Speech. Ice Cream,” said Karin at a press conference in front of Collins’ Portland office late this afternoon.
For more background information on the rally today, please visit post herein dated June 8, 2022.