Rise up

Students use protests, walk-outs to demand gun control


Photo courtesy of Gabi Bello

Right to protest: Seniors Gabi Bello and Noor Ryan at the Chicago March For Our Lives rally on March 24. The main event in Washington D.C. was the largest single-day protest in the history of the nation’s capital.

With the success of the March 14 walkout, students across the country are preparing for another walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Seniors Gabi Bello and Raina Bailey say they want to organize the second protest, but so far have found little interest from students and the administration.

“I was tired of being upset about things and venting about it online and not seeing it come to fruition,” Bailey said. “I just wanted to bring something that I was upset about internally and do something tangible with my peers.”

Bello said she saw the attention that the Parkland students were getting as a platform to address gun violence in Chicago.

“They got a lot of attention for basically the same thing kids in the City of Chicago have been trying to do for years,” Bello said. “I felt they now that they had this had momentum that we should try to build off of it and address larger issues, that many others have been facing for years and years.”

The event was started by Lane Murdock, a sophomore at Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Connecticut. This walkout differs from March 14 in that instead of 17 minutes this is an all day walkout.

The walkout will start at 10 a.m. and there will be 17 minutes of silence to honor the victims in Florida. Afterwards, there will be an open mic where students can have their voices heard. From there, “the schedule is up to you and your school,” according to National School Walkout.

Principal Jerry Anderson said as of right now the school is not organizing anything for the April 20 walkout.

“I feel like that [the March 14 walkout] was our one opportunity as a school. The April 20 walkout is around the same type of issue,” Anderson said. “I wouldn’t say that I’d be helping to organize something on that day because I feel like I already gave students an opportunity to exercise their voice around that topic.”

Anderson also said the school’s decision to not organize a walkout may have been different if they had not allowed students to participate before.

“Everytime there’s a walkout nationally, are we going to do something as a school to recognize this, even though there have been several walkouts organized for this?” she said.  

Last month’s walkout was held in memory of the 17 lives lost in the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The walkout started at 10 a.m. and ended at 10:17 a.m., one minute for each of the victims killed in the Parkland shooting.

At H-F, the Fieldhouse, the North turf area, the South gym, and the Senior Deck were designated area for students who wanted to participate in the walkout. The majority of students participated at each of the four locations.

Freshman Gianna Smith, who made a speech at the end of the walkout in the Fieldhouse, said it’s important for teens to be a part of something “bigger than ourselves.”

“I strongly believe that something had to be done,” Smith said. “We had to do something to show respect for the lives lost in the shooting while also showing that we are not going to just sit around and wait for someone else to do something.”

Since then, Stoneman Douglas students have sparked a nationwide movement calling for safer schools and tighter gun laws in America, starting the organization Never Again MSD.

A recent event that they organized, March For Our Lives, was held on March 24 in Washington D.C. and in over 800 other locations around the world, including Chicago; it was one of the “biggest youth protests since the Vietnam War,” according to the Associated Press.  

“There were lot of people speaking about their experiences,” Smith said. “The atmosphere was really positive and everyone was so happy to be there to support the cause.”

The rise in student activism has reached people all across the country and both Bailey and Bello said they believe that this is important and hope it continues.

“I hope that students keep the momentum and put pressure on Congress and our government to make sure that this doesn’t just die down and that it actually leads to change for everybody,” Bello said. “One that doesn’t just help the privileged kids that were affected at Parkland but also the kids that struggle in the inner city schools of Chicago as well as other areas.”

Seniors Claudia Pollmacher and Anika Sandstrom (right) at the Chicago March For Our Lives rally on March 24.