The Daily Texan: How are you involved with the March for Our Lives?
Ana Lopez: Long story short: Jack Kappelman, one of the major organizers, I was best friends with his older sister in high school. And I also went to the high school he attends now, Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy, and he has followed my activism considerably over the years with Students Against Campus Carry and Cocks Not Glocks, and he reached out to me a couple of weeks before the march and asked if I wanted to share a couple remarks.
DT: What was your perspective as a college student, removed from high school, at this event?
AL: I was totally in awe. I’m used to seeing college students speak out, which is really great, especially in this climate. It’s important for all of us who are able to vote to be vocal about our beliefs. But I remember when I was in high school, I would not have ever imagined any of my cohort engaging in something so big. The tides have definitely shifted. Younger people, even fifth graders, are speaking out and everyone’s becoming so well-versed on the issue of gun violence. I was just so impressed. I’ve attended many protests in my years, and most of them consisted of older adults. Especially the anti-gun groups here are mostly comprised of faculty, and so it was just so refreshing to see people my age and younger involved as much as the adults — if not more.
DT: How did having more young people than faculty affect this event?
AL: I feel as though it gave credibility to my generation. I know that the Parkland kids have gotten so much flak for speaking out because they’re just high school students, and some of them aren’t even able to vote or even register to vote yet. But it’s so important and it represents a shift in ideologies and the fact that we’re voting out the older generation that is basically ruining our country.
DT: How do you think this impacts UT students?
AL: I feel as though it has set a precedent for continued action. Hopefully it inspires other students who were previously afraid to speak out because they were afraid of retaliation or their peers judging them. Hopefully this protest, organized by high school students who are just as burdened by school work and the social lives of teenagers — the fact that they were able to organize a march that garnered the attention of 20,000 bodies — hopefully that inspires people my age to continue the movement.
DT: Did you notice any opposition at the event?
AL: During my career as organizer of Cocks Not Glocks, we always came into contact with this one organization called Open Carry Texas. I knew that they’d be there, and I saw them. They were carrying a big “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and I’m sure they had their ARs. It was just laughable, because two years ago when I was doing the anti-gun protests, the crowd was a lot smaller so any opposition was a lot more visible and it was kind of overwhelming. But now, with just six yahoos carrying their automatic rifles compared to 20,000 people, it was great to see them so outnumbered and underrepresented. Finally.
DT: Did you speak to any high school students at the event in particular? How did you see it through their eyes?
AL: I was sitting next to this girl named Keely. She’s a student at LBJ High School, which is the high school stationed directly below LASA — it’s so weird. LBJ represents an entirely different faction of our youth population in Austin, and their black voices are vastly underrepresented, and the fact that she was able to speak is really impactful. I talked to her about how she was the only LBJ kid up there, she was one of the few people of color who was able to speak, so I feel as though her impact and her being there meant a lot.
DT: Where do you see this movement going in terms of tangible change?
AL: With Cocks Not Glocks, I remember it was just going to pass and hopefully other people would take it up. But now, even though the March for Our Lives has passed, I feel as though the movement is going to keep going. Finally there is momentum. People thought that there would be momentum with the campus protests from two years ago but this is entirely different, and the difference is that these youths are not taking no for an answer. I noticed a lot of legislators who are trying to be very partisan, and that doesn’t cut it anymore. I feel as though the persistence isn’t going to stop.
Lopez is a Plan II and health and society junior.