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Community members gather at "March for our Lives"

 Despite bitterly cold winds blowing in Harbor Park in downtown Grand Marais on Saturday, March 24, about 130 people gathered to take part in a Cook County “March for our Lives” event.

The Cook County event was one of 845 similar actions worldwide on March 24 calling for an end to gun violence in schools and communities. Denny Fitzpatrick of the group Arrowhead Indivisible welcomed the crowd and introduced one of the student organizers of the event, Sammie Garrity.

It was Sammie and her fellow students who arranged a display in memory of the people who lost their lives at the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. Lined up on the bench in the center of Harbor Park were shoes—one pair for each of the 17 victims. Next to each pair was the name of the person who died by gun violence at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. 

The event continued with a song. Ann Russ led the singing of I Stand for Love by David Roth. Pastor Beth Benson shared a brief message of peace and that was followed by a moment—17 seconds—of silence in remembrance of the Florida shooting victims.

Bearing signs with a variety of messages: “Enough,” “Not One More,” “Peace” and more, the group then made a short march through Grand Marais—a march that was to last 17 minutes.

Upon return to Harbor Park there were a few other speakers, including Dr. Sandy Stover, who urged anyone with weapons in their home to keep them secure.

Sheriff Pat Eliasen also spoke, thanking the organizers for inviting him to speak. He said it is good that the community can come together like this, to peacefully demonstrate and discuss these issues. He said responsible use of firearms is something that the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Emergency Management strongly support. To that end, he held up a gun lock and said these are available free at the Cook County Law Enforcement Center.

Fitzpatrick pointed to a table available for anyone who wanted to register to vote. He thanked all for coming to the March for our Lives and encouraged them get registered to vote, to turn out at the polls and to contact legislators to share their concerns.
As shivering participants dispersed, a speaker played songs of peace to send them off.