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'I had to do something'; East Bay 11-year-old helps organize local March For Our Lives

Bay Area activists boost support for gun control legislation
Bay Area activists boost support for gun control legislation 03:08

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Like so many youngsters across the San Francisco Bay Area, the images and media reports of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas struck close to home for Alex Ibarra.

"I was reading about Uvalde and when I found out that most of those kids were my age, I knew I had to do something," he told KPIX. "One of the things those country needs is proper gun laws to keep people safe and after back-to-back shooting in Buffalo and Uvalde, I communicated with my friends to see if we could contact March For Our Lives."

The Coliseum College Prep Academy student is one of the young activists helping the March for Our Lives event on Saturday at city hall in Oakland from 10 a.m. to noon. He is also working with other students who live in San Leandro to create a larger event for both communities. They plan to encourage students his age to write letters to senators, make buttons and posters and speak out publicly. 

"We shouldn't have to feel that we might die when we go to school," he told KPIX on Friday. "Yes, I am definitely little scared to go back to school."

Ibarra skipped ahead in school and will start 8th grade in the fall. He says the policies he and others his age will call for on Saturday include background checks, red flag laws and raising the minimum age to buy guns. He will also advocate for the Protect Our Kids bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives. 

"How do you put into words the loss of your purpose and meaning in life? You can't, one just cannot," said Maria Climaco, who lost her son Aya Nakano in 2013 when he was shot and killed in Oakland. 

No arrests have been made all these years later. He was about to turn 23 when he died and would have celebrated his 32nd birthday next week. 

"It can happen to anyone, at any place, any time," Climaco said. "I miss his big heart, he has a very compassionate nature and he would want me to do something about what's going on right now."

She continues to bring attention to his case and calls for an end to gun violence by working with Every Town for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. 

For Ibarra, he acknowledges the change he wants will take time.

"If laws don't change, that could be me in two, three, four years or that could be other kids who don't deserve to die," Ibarra said. 

The protest in Oakland will include speeches from students and survivors of gun violence about their experiences and how mass shootings have affected them and their communities. 

"Most importantly, we're all going to bring an extra pair of shoes with us to represent the victims of gun violence," Ibarra said, adding that he encourages students, parents, teachers and other community members to come out and support the march.

Other March for Our Lives protests are scheduled to take place Saturday in San Francisco, Mountain View, Redwood City, Walnut Creek, Benicia, Burlingame, Pacifica, and Sonoma. 


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