“It’s a public health problem”

On Saturday June 11, about 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 attendees was significantly lower than Saturday’s march in our nation’s capital, the passion for the cause was evident.

Oak Bluffs’ Kathy Laskowski made sure to spread the word on MV Times and social media platforms like Islanders Talk and Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard on Facebook in hopes that people of all ages would come out to take a stand. Indivisible organizes demonstrations and rallies in support of racial justice, immigrant rights, climate change and health rights, among other important causes. With weekend events like the Pride Parade, high school graduation, MV Dems and League of Women Voters, Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard wasn’t able to drive this extraordinary, but Laskowski was determined: “I’m just going to get a sign and go out there. If anyone comes, that’s great. I felt like I had to say something because it’s so important. ”

Among the first participants to arrive after Laskowski was Katama’s Kelly McCausland. You have received notification of the event via the MV Black Lives Matter mailing list. “It’s just gotten to that point where being on the sidelines is no longer an option,” McCausland said. “Time to make a homemade sign and stand on the street corner.” She came with one of the larger “Ban Assault Weapons” signs.

Many attendees, like McCausland, came prepared with their own homemade placards, but Sarah Nevin, and her husband Bruce, from Edgartown, members of the MV Peace Council, brought a box full of placards for those who came to show support. but they didn’t have one. Some of the messages on the cartels said “Thou shalt not kill: the original gun control law” and “Congress resists the NRA.”

At one point, two unidentified women approached the group and donated signs to the cause, one said: “Stop gun violence.” Another sign made by Laskowski and her husband Bob, also present, showed a depiction of a CDC chart showing that firearms are the leading cause of death among our young people. Bob Laskowski, a retired doctor, stressed that gun control is not just a political issue. “It’s a public health problem and our current approach is woefully inadequate,” he said.

Ellen Wolfe of West Tisbury, and a member of the MV Peace Council, saw the e-mail announcement for the event on the morning of the event and thought, “This is important, there are a lot of important ones right now.” She fears that “as a country, our democracy is in trouble”. Other attendees included Toni Kauffman of Oak Bluffs, Rev. Stephen Harding of Grace Episcopal Church, and Joe Finocchio and his wife Cynthia Redshaw, who heard about the event from Laskowski. Lorna Andrade, a member of the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, was also present. Andrade, who is described as a force by those who know her, said, “You know what, if our members of Congress and all our elected officials don’t listen to us, then we vote them out of office.”

As islanders and visitors alike know, Five Corners is a busy place. Over the years it has been the site of numerous demonstrations and events of importance for important causes such as nuclear disarmament, health care, civil rights, climate change and the right to abortion, just to name a few.

On Saturday the passersby both on foot and by car were as passionate as the participants who held the signs themselves and were heard shouting: “thank you for doing this”, “so much to do”, “I agree, I agree”. As vehicles passed and whistles, screams and horns filled the air, Sarah Nevin said, “This angle was very useful.”

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