On Saturday, June 11, approximately two dozen Vineyarders gathered at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven to support March for Our Lives, a nationwide call to action for more sensible gun control laws and an end to gun violence. Although the address was different and the number of participants was significantly fewer than the march in our nation’s capital Saturday, the passion for the cause was evident.
Kathy Laskowski of Oak Bluffs made sure to spread the word to The MV Times, and on social media platforms such as Islanders Talk and Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard on Facebook, in hopes that folks of all ages would come out to take a stand. Indivisible organizes standouts and rallies in support of racial justice, immigrant rights, climate change, and healthcare rights, among other important causes. With weekend happenings like the Pride Parade, high school graduation, M.V. Dems, and League of Women Voters, Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t able to spearhead this standout, but Laskowski was determined: “I’m just gonna get a sign and go out there. If anybody comes, that’s great. I just felt like I needed to say something because it’s so important.”
Among the first participants to arrive after Laskowski was Kelly McCausland of Katama. She received notification of the rally through the MV Black Lives Matter emailing list. “It’s just gotten to that point where standing on the sidelines is no longer an option,” McCausland said. “It’s time to make a homemade sign and get on the street corner.” She arrived with one of the largest signs, which read “Ban Assault Weapons.”
Many participants, like McCausland, came prepared with their own homemade signs, but Sarah Nevin and husband Bruce, from Edgartown, members of the M.V. Peace Council, brought a box full of signs for those who came to show support but didn’t have one. Some of the messages on the signs read: “Thou Shalt Not Kill — the original gun control law” and “Congress stand up to NRA.”
At one point, two unidentified women walked up to the group and donated signs to the cause; one said, “End Gun Violence.” Another sign made by Laskowski and husband Bob, also in attendance, showed a representation of a CDC chart showing that guns are the leading cause of death among our youth. Bob Laskowski, a retired physician, emphasized that gun control isn’t just a political issue. “It’s a public health issue, and our current approach is woefully inadequate,” he said.
Ellen Wolfe of West Tisbury, and a member of the MV Peace Council, saw the email announcement for the rally the morning of the event, and thought, “This one’s important, there are a lot of important ones right now.” She fears that “as a country, our democracy is in trouble.” Among other participants were Toni Kauffman of Oak Bluffs, the Rev. Stephen Harding from the Grace Episcopal Church, and Joe Finocchio and his wife Cynthia Redshaw, who heard about the event from Laskowski. Also in attendance was Lorna Andrade, a member of the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. Andrade, who is described as a force by those who know her, said, ”You know what, if our congressmen and all our elected officials do not listen to us, then we vote them out of office.”
As Islanders and visitors alike know, Five Corners is a busy place. It has been the site of many stand-outs and rallies over the years for important causes like nuclear disarmament, healthcare, civil rights, climate change, and abortion rights, to name a few.
On Saturday, passersby both on foot and in vehicles were as impassioned as the participants holding signs themselves, and could be heard yelling, “Thank you for doing this,” “Way to go,” “I agree, I agree!” As the vehicles passed by and the hoots, hollers, and honks filled the air, Sarah Nevin said, “This corner has been very useful.”