MFOL collage


I admit, I was scared when I got the email- the email that threatened my life and the lives of those around me. For weeks a group of organizers in my community had been planning a local March For Our Lives event. We were getting many offers of, “Can I help in anyway? We need to do something about this.” Even people who didn’t usually step up were offering help. In the back of my mind I suppose I knew that there would be kick back, that we may get hecklers and disrupters BUT I did not imagine the vicious email we would get. I guess because I don’t think of the world in terms of hatred and racism like some do. Here it is, completely un-edited:

“Leave our guns alone, you fucking anti-constitutional anti-American cunts. Niggers and spics kill each other with illegal guns and shitty pistols every single FUCKING day in the hood and you little faggots don’t give a fucking shit about that. Some retard shoots up a school and all of a sudden the whole populace needs to be disarmed so the kikes who run this country can do so without any fear of resistance. You guys think you are anti-establishment, but you are just retarded bootlickers wanting more Americans defenseless and dead. Why don’t you talk about the school shooter this week who was stopped by a security officer with a gun? Why don’t you kikes talk about the broward county sheriffs standing down and sitting around the school while an active shooting is happening? The day of the rope is coming and you faggots will die for what you are doing.”

Ironically, earlier in the morning I had attended an ‘ALICE’ training program at the local school.

ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training instructor led classes provide preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals intent on conveying a political message through violence, ALICE Training option based tactics have become the accepted response, versus the traditional “lockdown only” approach.

We, organizers discussed what we should do, should we blow it off, alert the public, contact law enforcement, or cancel the event. We were sure about one thing- we were not going to cancel the event because that meant he had won and we weren’t going to let him win. We also agreed that law enforcement needed to be informed. In the ALICE training I learned that if you see something strange, odd or out of character that you should not ignore it and contact an appropriate party, school services, community officials or law enforcement depending on the circumstances. The biggest debate was how widely we should spread the word about the threat, some wanted to keep it low key so as not to discourage people from coming, others felt we should be honest and upfront with the community and broadcast it through our social media sites. We settled on disseminating the facts to people and allow them to make their own choice.

I didn’t sleep well that night, neither did the other organizers. As I drove through the winding mountain road down into town, I looked at the green, tree rich mountains I loved, I thought of how much I love my family and community and doubted myself, “Was I making a mistake? Should we have cancelled the event? Did I do everything I could to make sure word got out that there could be a danger to people?” And I even, miserably allowed my mind to go: there. You know, ‘THERE’, that place where we think the worst, where our fears rule and our imagination runs amok. Would my eyes see what 1st responders see at a mass shooting, sights that I could never un-see. Would I not go home again? It was supposed to rain but the sun shone instead and the faint cedar and pine smell wafted through my car vents and I used my mental hand to push those thoughts away and close that door of my mind. If the kids of Parkland aren’t allowing themselves to be intimidated, I sure am not going to let one nasty letter prevent me from protecting my children and grandchildren. Both Hogg and Gonzalez, who refer to themselves as members of the "mass shooting generation," say they've received death threats in response to their efforts in launching the movement. But they aren't letting threats deter them from making progress.

I arrived at our starting destination, the high school, and saw people walking along the streets to gather, more people than usual, street parking was full, folks were carrying home signs; all of them heading to the school. They weren’t afraid and I gained strength from seeing them. John and Bill were setting up the podium. Nan handed me a box of signs, Elizabeth was directing people on where to go. Safeway had donated buckets of flowers for our memorial service. Everytown had sent us a box of signs and a banner.  A group of women had created silhouettes of the 17 lost in Parkland. People cared! They weren’t going to be frightened away and they kept coming and coming. We are a small rural community and we had about 250-300 people show up because, like me, they have had #Enough. Enough of the killing and maiming and the NRA and the cowardice of politicians and the bullying of gun fanatics (not gun owners- gun fanatics- there’s a difference).

We walked and talked through our downtown to our Courthouse Square Park. We laid flowers and a minister spoke words of peace while we offered a moment of silence in memory. Several speakers offered their ideas and plans for solving the gun violence problem, including a young high school senior who has experienced 7 active lock down events in her life. SEVEN active lock down events, not drills. My 12 year old grandson boldly stepped up to the podium much to the surprise of his mother and myself. He opened with “Every morning I wonder, ‘Is this the day?’ Is today the day a shooter comes to my school?’”

Not only did we have one of the largest turn-outs locally I have seen in support of a political issue but we also had a peaceful rally. Is this it? Have we finally had #Enough? Have we finally reached the tipping point when we will no longer listen to the empty, bullying rhetoric of the NRA? Have had enough of cowering politicians? I hope so. I hope this the moment in history when we look back and we know that this was when we put our children before money.

You can read the full coverage in this link from our local paper:

Deborah Baron

Deborah Baron

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