“We have lost too many lives to guns. It is putting us all in danger. And every single person here has a voice, so we need to use it. So…What Do We Want? Gun Control! When Do We Want It? Now!”
With mad faces and angry chants, students from at least five Denver metro area schools were represented at the Colorado Capitol after they walked out in solidarity with those who have been killed in school shootings. The movement has taken off following the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the March 7 shooting of 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington in Birmingham, Alabama.
Another student took the bull horn and talked about how hard there work will be to get gun control, “This is going to be really hard, but you know what else would be hard? For parents to come home and find out that their children died because we don’t have gun control so I’m here to say never again!”
#NeverAgain is the Twitter hashtag adopted by the student movement to call for gun control and against school shootings.
Nationwide walkouts took place, some with the blessing of teachers and administrators, while others schools threatened students with disciplinary action for participating in the day’s action.
Students marched from Compassion Road Academy, Denver Discovery School, Denver Green School, East High School, South High School, and Thomas Jefferson.
Chants could be heard from inside the Capitol.
“Protect Kids! Not Guns!”
“End Gun Violence!”
“When I Say Love, You Say Rules…..Love Rules! Love Rules!”
“When We Say No Way, You Say NRA…..No Way NRA, No Way NRA!”
“Hey, Hey NRA, How Many Kids Have You Killed Today?”
High schoolers took a back row to middle schoolers at the Capitol rally. Leandra took the bull horn to say, “We’re here today to use our voice for the kids who have been killed, for the students who can’t use their voice now. There have been 99 mass school shootings and 67 of those used semi automatic and automatic machine guns. So we need to take those away before any more lives are lost!”
Deangelo first asked the crowd, “We don’t like the gun violence do we? We don’t like seeing our fellow friends dead, right? As much as I love my teachers, we don’t think they should have guns, do we? The crowd screamed in the negative as Deangelo turned attention to the lives lost, “How would this world be different if they were here? I’m from a school, it’s called Compassion Road. We call ourselves the wolf pack. Do you guys know what wolf packs do? What a wolf pack does is, we stay together; no matter the distress; no matter what we go through. And we always know we got one another.”
At the mic, Annie denounced the necessity for lockdown drills, where schools practice what to do under perceived danger outside of a classroom, “I am a student with mental disabilities. I have autism and anxiety and every time my school does a lockdown drill, I have a panic attack. Because what if next time, it’s not a drill? What if one day I’m gone, and my mom doesn’t know til the news starts reporting it? What if one day all of us sitting in our classrooms thinking it’s just a drill, stop breathing. I have grown up in an America where gun violence, especially mass shootings are a common occurrence. And based on the turnout today, I hope to change that America for my children and the generations to come.”
Haley asked her fellow student, “Do you want to come to school feeling unsafe? Do you want to come to school feeling safe? Do you want to have a voice?
“I’m really freaked out about what’s happening. I don’t want to come home and hear about more of these school shootings. Every single day, somebody gets killed with guns. And I want to put a stop to this. I’m really freaked out about what’s happening. I don’t want to come home and hear about more of these school shootings. Every single day, somebody gets killed with guns. And I want to put a stop to this.”
Binta agreed, “For the past few years, we have been having some mass shootings. But 2018 is the year that we don’t have any more.”
Abraham said that maybe if he were to use swear words, that he might get attention, “I’ve seen a lot of fu..in s..t happen today, and I’ve seen a lot of s..t happen in this world. I use foul language because we need to be heard.”
“These are words. We’re not using bullets. We must be loud. We must be proud. Get out there and actually make a difference. We’re out here. We’re doing s..t. Get your parents to do something. Get your friends to do something. We’ve already seen it. Japan. Norway. Every other country that has banned guns, how many school shootings do they have? None! Let’s do this!”
Abraham was referencing what Crystal, a 7th grader from Denver Discovery School also saw. A group of counter-protesters approached the students. Crystal told others, “We have gotten a lot of hate today. But that hasn’t stopped us from what we believe in and what we think is right and how our voice will be heard, and we’re going to speak up when something is wrong and we need it to be fixed.”
Crystal described the interaction to The Nation Report, ”
“What we saw were grown men yelling at young children, and flipping us off and telling us that we better not take their guns away, and that what we’re doing isn’t right. But I feel like what we’re doing is right. And we’re standing up for what we believe in. And even if grown men are telling us to shut up and that we’re wrong, and that we better not take their guns away is horrible because first of all they’re grown men, and they shouldn’t be yelling at children. They think that what we’re doing is wrong, but what they have, such as guns, is wrong.
When asked if she was feeling positive about the turnout she answered, “Yes I’m feeling really good about today, because when we came, it was just our school and we weren’t expecting much and as more people came and protested with us, I felt really good about what our school is doing because it’s helping us how we should grow as a community, and stand up for our rights together.”