Valentine’s Day shooting spurs student walkout

Sophie Keefe, News Editor

The students of Minneapolis Public schools have had enough. Over 200 teenagers walked out of class and rallied at Martin Luther King Park in South Minneapolis on Feb. 21. The crowd walked up Nicollet Ave, all the way to City Hall downtown. Their demonstration took place on the same day Douglas High School students gathered in Washington, D.C. Both student groups called for stricter gun control.
“I’m marching because there’s students like me, my age and younger, dying from gun violence,” said Washburn High School junior Katrina Hanson for WCCO.
The walkout included students from Washburn, Southwest, Roosevelt, South and DeLaSalle. Some walked up to six miles in total. All walked through frigid temperatures to make their voices heard. Along their route, students were joined by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. He chanted alongside the protesters, and once they reached City Hall, he continued to display encouragement.
“What we all want to tell you is we have your back,” said Frey. “You all are the gun lobby’s absolute worst nightmare.”
Once the students reached City Hall, they climbed the stairs to the third floor. According to the “Star Tribune,” the City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee was meeting to discuss their 2018 legislative agenda. They had allowed 15 minutes for students to speak. Demonstrators filled the room and spilled out into the hallways and overflow rooms. The first student to take the podium was Faydane Ouro-Akondo, a senior from Southwest. The “Star Tribune” recorded this quote:
“This is not about who our president is. This is about children dying.”
After the rally, city officials moved to support the banning of assault weapons in the state of Minnesota.
In the age after the 1999 Columbine shooting, code-red shooter drills are as familiar to students as fire drills. Children know to huddle in the corners or closets of their classrooms and keep quiet. Another thing they know is that locked doors will not stop an AR-15 rifle or anything of that caliber. Douglas High School, Sandy Hook, non-school shootings like Pulse Nightclub or Route 91 Harvest Music Festival: dozens die, and gun shops keep semi-automatics in stock. A few pages of forms, an instant background check, a monetary transaction and the gun is yours.
The Mass-Shooting Generation is maturing, and the time for quiet mourning seems to be in the past. As young people take to television and social media, the national gun control debate is on the rise. For now, it seems, state representatives are more open towards considering gun safety reform.

This article first appeared in the Friday, March 2, 2018, Edition of The Echo.