March for Our Lives: D.C., Boston, Vineyard Haven

Check back here throughout the weekend for live updates from D.C., Boston, and Five Corners.

Check the bottom of this post to see tweets from our staff at various march sites, including Washington, D.C. and Boston. And tweet at us @TheMVTimes and use the hashtag #marchforourlives

Sunday, 5:30 am

The two buses have arrived safely in Woods Hole.

Saturday, 7 pm

Back on the bus once again.

With a solid eight hour bus ride ahead, the students, teachers, and parents that ventured forth from the Cape had a chance to process what they had just been apart of.

Signs reading “mental illness is global, mass shootings are American” and “I’m a teacher, arm me with books!” Children as young as 11 giving emotional accounts of their experience with gun violence. Thousands upon thousands of marchers showing their support.

“It’s a hopeful reminder for the future to see kids so empowered and inspired,” Casey Hayward, a fifth and sixth grade science and social studies teacher at the charter school, said. Hayward also said that as a teacher she sees kids empower and inspire first hand, but “it’s nice for the rest of the world to see.”

Saturday, 3 pm

Thousands of people, many of them high school students, marched from Roxbury to the Boston Common holding signs and chanting during Boston’s version of the March For Our Lives.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, the NRA has got to go,” was the most popular closely followed by “This is what Democracy looks like.”

Grandparents, parents, and children all marched together holding signs from the obvious “arms are for hugging” to the creative “Teenagers beat Voldemort by disarming him,” a play on the Harry Potter books and movies.

Those watching the marchers also clutched signs before crowding into Boston Common for speeches.

The day started under sunny skies where a sweatshirt was enough, but ended with some light snow falling and temperatures dropping considerably.

Saturday, 2 pm 

Upwards of 200 people filled every one of the Five Corners in Vineyard Haven on Saturday morning to demonstrate for gun safety in solidarity with the student-led March for Our Lives around the country and the world.

Sarah Nevin, co-chair of the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council with her husband Bruce Nevin, organized the 90-minute event, which also drew an unending and supportive blast of car horns passing through the Island’s busiest intersection.

Carrying homemade signs, mixed with signs Nevin had saved from the 2017 MV Peace Council’s five-year observation of the school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Island residents expressed support for the nation’s school children and called for gun control.

The speed with which the student-led demand for school safety and gun laws has grown has made the movement difficult to put in perspective but the majority of Saturday’s crowd weren’t kids and many have decades of experience with protests for social change. They get what’s going on.

“I never thought 50 years ago when I was demonstrating against Vietnam, for women’s rights and civil rights, that I would be out here with a wheelchair and cane, waving a sign, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t come,” longtime Island resident Nancy Gardella of Vineyard Haven said.

In fact, the ‘60s-generation was out in full force on Saturday. Their numbers dominated the gathering. They reported feeling re-energized by the possibility of culture change, reminiscent of their protests two generations ago.

Marie Ariel, a retired librarian from Cambridge Ma. carried a hand-lettered sign thanking the country’s teens for “inspiring us.”

“I think this movement is as important as civil rights, feminism and the anti-Vietnam movements. Change has come in fits and starts over the years. But I see the definite possibility of an intergenerational movement that will lead to progressive and real change,” she said.

Of course, Island events are incomplete without kids and dogs, most wearing signs, and on Saturday, the presence of two alpacas wearing “Alpaca for Peace“ signs around their long necks.  

The upbeat, exuberant event featured a minor traffic fender-bender at Five Corners, but the undeterred crowd dusted off the ‘60’s protest songs. Singing with motivation provided by Island entertainer and personality Corinne De Langovant.

Saturday, 12:30 pm

Just arrived in Boston where the March For Our Lives is underway. There is a huge police presence and traffic is slowed to a crawl as marchers make their way to the Boston Common.

Saturday, 12 pm

After a half hour ride on the Metro to get to downtown Washington, D.C., the group congregated at the closest Starbucks to get some caffeine before making the short trek to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Even though the group got to the rally a few hours early, the avenue was bustling with people. The crowd sprawled down the avenue and spilled out onto the Mall area. Several large screen monitors and sets of speakers were set up to show the speakers and performers.

The format of the rally alternated between live performances from celebrities, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Miley Cyrus, Andra Day, and Common; Videos juxtaposing gun violence statistics with shots of National Rifle Association advocates and Congress members who accepted donation money from the NRA; and impassioned speeches from the students of Parkland and other victims of gun violence.

Chants of, “No More!” And “Vote them out!” Rang throughout the crowd.

Saturday, 7 am

It was smooth sailing for the majority of the bus ride until a car accident outside DC clogged the road and backed up traffic.

Once the bus got to the Largo Town Center Metro stop, students and adults were forced to wait in the frigid early morning temperatures for bus number two which was late because it took the wrong exit.

Sisters Lindsay and Hannah Webster are two of the few adults on the trip who travelled with the students.

Lindsay Webster currently works at the YMCA on the Island, but used to work at the charter school. “I’m really excited to see Island kids witness something so big,” she said. “I think they’re going to see something really great.”

Hannah explained how students from the small Island community have a great opportunity to participate in something wide-reaching. “Experiencing something is different than conceptualizing it,” she said.

Once inside the Metro, Beth O’Connor, Chatinover’s mom, passed out Metro cards to everyone who came on the bus. O’Connor arrived in DC last night to pick up the cards from Chatinover’s cousin, Kelly Drury. The tickets were purchased with funds from the donations given to the trip.

Saturday, 2:21 am

A quick 25 minute stop to stretch.

Everyone got out to get their fast food fix at the rest stop’s Subway, McDonald’s, and Dunkin Donuts.

Saturday, 12 am

An air of excitement and anticipation filled bus number one during its first few hours into the trip.

Isiah Peters, a junior at Barnstable High School, came on the bus with his younger brother Andre, an eighth grader and their mother, who has encouraged the two of them to get more involved and be more active.

“Trump has really politicized this generation of kids,” Peters said. “There’s a need to do stuff like this.”

MVRHS junior Jasselle Wildanger agreed with Peters.

Wildanger said she is excited. “I’m ready to protest. I’m not nervous at all…If we want to see a change, it needs to be the teens who are the adults of the future.”

Isabella Youmans has been making the rounds on the bus by filming students for her documentary, having each one share their feelings on the march.

The first pit stop was at a gas station on I-95 at the Connecticut/Rhode Island border where the bus changed drivers. While waiting to head back out on the road, a brief “Keith! Keith! Keith!” chant broke out in praise of the trip’s organizer.

Friday, 9:30 pm

Despite a flurry of boat problems and cancellations, the two buses are headed to DC.

An outpouring of community support came in the form of bagged lunches and water, donated by Waquoit Congregational Church and March For Our Lives t-shirts, provided by Rick Mello of Martha’s Vineyard Screen Printing.

Due to a limited number allowed on the 8:30 pm boat, Jonah Maidoff, a social studies teacher from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School and a small group of students headed off on the 8 pm SeaStreak ferry which was filling in for the regularly scheduled ferry.

Maidoff said he was excited for the students and to be a part of the demonstration.

“I’m hopeful. This is a historic moment, it’s a chance to reset the debate,” Maidoff said.

Several of the students said they were excited to head to D.C. and support the march.

“I feel like it’s my duty as a student and as a person who is able bodied to go to the march,” Isabella Youmans, a senior at MVRHS, said.

Youmans is working on a documentary of the march by speaking to as many students as she can. “My best talent is video and if I can use that to make a difference, I should,” she said.

Amelia Simmons, a sophomore, said she was grateful she could go on the trip. “I wouldn’t have been able to go without this,” she said referring to the bus trip organized by Keith Chatinover. “I’m excited to go for something I’m passionate about.”

Wednesday,  6:30 pm

And so the journey begins.

Charter School senior Keith Chatinover spoke to a packed room at the Edgartown library tonight, reviewing the itinerary for the Friday’s trip to Washington, D.C. for the March for Our Lives. It’s estimated that 500,000 people will take part in the march on Saturday, Keith said at the meeting.

So far, 107 people from the Island and Cape will be going on the bus trip, out of 110 seats available on the two charter busses.

“This is not a school trip,” he said to the room filled with mostly high schoolers. “I am not responsible for you, but I will do my best to make sure that you have the best experience possible and that you are safe.”

Snacks, water, and picket signs reading “protect kids not guns!” were donated by the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center and made available to attendees.

After fielding a series of questions about trip particulars – what Metro stop to take, are bags allowed, will the bus stop for bathroom breaks, etc. – Keith concluded the meeting by commending the group’s decision to take the trip and march.

“I hope you feel proud of yourselves for having the courage to do this and being civically engaged.”

Tuesday

Final preparations are being made for a bus trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Our Lives, a national rally to end gun violence in the wake of the school shooting that killed 17 students and staff members in Parkland, Fla.

The trip from the Vineyard is being organized by Keith Chatinover, a senior at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. A meeting of those taking the trip is scheduled for 6:30 pm Wednesday at Edgartown library to work out last-minute details and answer questions.

Two buses, which are fully funded through donations, filled with Islanders will head for the nation’s capital beginning with a ferry ride at 8:30 pm Friday. The buses are scheduled to arrive back in Woods Hole as close to 5 am Sunday as possible, according to emails sent to participants by Chatinover. As of today, there are still 12 seats available on the second bus. If you would like to claim a seat and travel with the group to D.C., email Keith at kchatinover@gmail.com.

Times photo editor Gabrielle Mannino and news intern Brian Dowd are taking the bus journey to Washington, and will be filing frequent updates to The Times website, as well as tweeting about their experience on The MV Times Twitter feed.

The Times will also provide coverage from other places holding rallies in support of the Washington march, including Five Corners in Vineyard Haven and Boston.

We’d like to hear your march experiences as well, so be sure to tweet at us @TheMVTimes with the hashtag #MarchforOurLives.