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Student Organizers Behind SLC Gun Control Rally Facing Online Intimidation

Kelsie Moore
Students participate in a school walkout in support of gun safety earlier this month.

This Saturday the nationwide March For Our Lives will take place in cities across the country, including Salt Lake City. Local organizers, most of them teenagers, said they have been receiving threatening messages leading up to the event. A pro-gun counterprotest has also been scheduled.

The planned march in Salt Lake will begin at West High School at 11 a.m. with a route up to the state capitol. The rally will bring together students, parents and teachers calling for stricter gun control and school safety.


On Facebook, an event sponsored by the Utah Gun Exchange is planned for the same route and will begin moments before.


“They’ve encouraged people to conceal-carry," said Elizabeth Love, a senior at West High School who is helping to plan March For Our Lives. "Sometimes they’ve called it a counterprotest.”


Love said over the past few weeks she and fellow organizers have been getting backlash online. Some commenters have accused students of being brainwashed and others plan to open carry guns at Saturday’s march.


A screen capture of one message left for organizers of Salt Lake's March For Our Lives.

“I find it really disappointing that members of our community are using intimidation tactics to make us feel unsafe at our own march," Love said.


Love said they’ve been keeping local police up-to-date and that representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and other volunteers plan to be onsite to monitor safety for the those marching.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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