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June 30, 2022

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Hundreds attend March for Our Lives event in downtown Vancouver

Downpour doesn’t stop anti-gun violence rally

By , Columbian staff writer
10 Photos
As demonstrators marched around Vancouver Waterfront Park they chanted, "Protect our kids," and, "The NRA has got to go." (Dylan Jefferies/The Columbian)
As demonstrators marched around Vancouver Waterfront Park they chanted, "Protect our kids," and, "The NRA has got to go." (Dylan Jefferies/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Despite a downpour, hundreds turned out for a March for Our Lives rally in downtown Vancouver Saturday.

March for Our Lives is a student-led movement focused on gun violence prevention that arose in the wake of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

On Saturday, a March for Our Lives rally was held in Washington, D.C., with similar events throughout the United States. The rally was held in response to the recent mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

A few hundred people gathered at Vancouver Waterfront Park at 2 p.m. for the rally, including students, teachers and families.

Many were holding signs in support of gun-control legislation, including a ban on assault-style weapons. Some held signs criticizing the National Rifle Association.

Demonstrators marched around the perimeter of Vancouver Waterfront Park before working their way toward Esther Short Park, where the Vancouver Farmers Market and Tacos in the Park were taking place.

Many Farmers Market and Tacos in the Park attendees cheered on the demonstrators, but the rally wasn’t without contention, as some passersby voiced their disapproval for gun- control legislation.

After demonstrators exited the Farmers Market, they worked their way back to Vancouver Waterfront Park. By then, many of their signs were sopping wet. Nonetheless, demonstrators formed a circle and encouraged people to voice their thoughts.

The first person to speak was Vancouver Public Schools teacher and legislative candidate John Zingale.

“How many teachers and educators do we have here?” he asked the crowed. Many cheered in response. “I’ve been a teacher here in Vancouver Public Schools for the last five years. I teach middle school social studies, and some of my students are here today. I was a senior in high school when Columbine happened. At that time, I was like, ‘This will never happen again.’

“Enough is enough,” he continued. “With what’s happening today, we must be civic, but we cannot stand silent any longer.”

The crowed responded by chanting, “Protect our kids.”

Then, Heritage High School English teacher Paul Hamonn got up to speak.

“After Sandy Hook, I decided it was time to do something,” he said.

He began calling Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s office to discuss the issue. When he didn’t receive a satisfactory answer, he called again, he said.

Since then, he’s called Herrera Beutler’s office nearly 200 times, and he’s visited her with his 11-year-old son, Aaron.

“I’m wondering what would happen if everyone here called the congresswoman’s office and told them how they felt about this issue,” he said. “They can’t hang up on all of us.”

“The first time I went to the congresswoman’s office, I want to say I was 8 or 9,” said Aaron Hamonn, Paul’s son. “When I went to that office, I was sobbing, because they won’t do (anything) about gun violence. Why do you think they’re called assault weapons? Because they are assaulting people.”

Following the speeches, the rain let up, and by 3 p.m., the crowed had dispersed.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect John Zingale is running for the Legislature.

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