From Isla Vista to Parkland: Community Members Come Together for Vigil

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Cayla Marie Peterson

Approximately 25 UCSB students and community members of Isla Vista came together to pay their respects on Feb. 16 for the victims of the Parkland School shooting in Florida. The school shooting occurred Feb. 14 and claimed the lives of 17 victims. The vigil was held in the Isla Vista Love and Remembrance Garden, and allowed anyone to voice their thoughts on the shooting. Community members are also joining in the fight to advocate for common-sense gun laws.

Common-sense gun laws are a series of proposed acts with the intent to reduce gun violence in the United States. Sometimes met with criticism, the laws have gained supporters in the wake of multiple school shootings. Supporters are urging for lawmakers to tighten gun control by creating restrictions on gun ownership.

Isla Vista is no stranger to gun violence as the town comes up on the four year anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of six students. Spencer Brandt, Director of the Isla Vista Community Services District, said Isla Vista healed by coming together and supporting each other.

He recognizes the similarities that the grieving and healing process comes in fighting to make sure school shootings dissipate, starting with the common-sense gun laws. Just like the community of Isla Vista, the citizens of Parkland have come together to make their voices heard. After appearing on Ellen, CNN and Fox News, Parkland students have shown that they are just beginning their demand for change with gun reform.  

During the vigil, Isla Vistans made postcards and sent them to Congress urging for new laws limiting the accessibility of gun ownership. Brandt pressed reform has to happen and it needs to happen now.

“Safety is not a partisan issue,” Brandt said in response to arguments that gun violence has political overtones.

Brandt, along with other students of Isla Vista, have expressed their anger and frustration as they feel government officials have worked daily to undermine validity of the students’ pleas.

“It is super important for students to get involved because without change this can and will happen again,” Brandt added, urging students of UCSB to create and join activist groups.

After the 2014 Isla Vista shooting, students and Isla Vista community members advocated and protested which aided in the result of the California legislation passing Assembly Bill 1014. Signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the bill enacted a temporary seizure of guns from people that court officials deem a threat to themselves or others. As Brandt referred back to these moments in history, he said that he believes change works but one has to work for it. For instance, Richard Martinez, father of student Christopher Martinez, who was fatally shot in the 2014 mass shooting, has become a key spokesperson for gun reform in California.

Meanwhile, Parkland students are not going away as they demand for gun reform in what has been called the “Never Again Movement.” Their blogs, essays and social media tweets have spearheaded a campaign leading to a planned march on Washington on Mar. 24. Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg have each pledged to donate $500,000 to the walk on Washington named “March For Our Lives.”

These students have made it clear that they are not going anywhere, and Brandt had one final message from the Isla Vista community to the survivors of the shooting: “To the Parkland students, keep fighting, we support you.”

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