East Oakland youth flying to D.C. to 'March for Our Lives' protests
Demonstrations called March for Our Lives are scheduled to take place Saturday, March 24 in Washington D.C. and cities across the country following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Nine teens from the nonprofit East Oakland Youth Development Center plan to fly to the nation's capital to participate in this national movement.
The teens say they've experienced loss through gun violence and want to represent those who've lost their lives in the East Bay by supporting tougher gun laws.
"I lost somebody that was my same age. He was killed. This was murder. It brought a whirlwind of feelings," said Damoni Nears who's 18-years-old.
The teen says she was 14 when this first loss of a friend from gun violence happened.
She and others say the trauma from the loss of peers and loved ones linger, even years later.
Another teen says she witnessed a neighbor being gunned down last summer as she stood on the balcony of her home.
"It made me sick to my stomach. It made me think about what if I was outside," said 17-year-old Devlynn Nolan.
She says this came after her then 17-year-old brother "Skeet" Mixon was shot and killed in 2012.
Nolan says joining a nationwide demonstration is empowering and healing.
"There's going to be a change, Our voices are going to be heard. We're not going to stop until our voices are heard," said Nolan.
"They are subject matter experts of their experience. Nobody can tell them how to feel or how to heal," said Regina Jackson, CEO of East Oakland Youth Development Center.
She is leading the youth delegation to the nation's capital.
Jackson says whether it's school or street shootings, it's gun violence.
"This is now not a black and brown issue. It's an every color issue," said Jackson.
One teen says he is worried about surviving in an environment where gun violence has become the norm.
"We got to change this. We got to do something. It's unacceptable. It shouldn't be like this," said Raheem Hankins who's 15-years-old.
The teens say their efforts won't end with this weekend's march.
When they return to the Bay Area, they plan to work with local law makers on gun legislation.
The youth delegation is scheduled to fly out of Oakland Airport to Washington D.C. Friday morning.