By Joseph Temblador and Sophia O’Neal, Clarion Staff
On April 20th at 10:19 a.m., Kennedy students, along with other schools across the nation, took part in a walkout out in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine mass shooting, an event that lead to the loss of 13 lives. As JFK students left their classrooms and were directed to the front entrance of the school where Seniors Danke Stroup, Cole Klein, Sarah Faraj, Malissia Bordeaux and Billy T. Hernandez, helped facilitate an open mic forum.
Danke Stroup, gave an impassioned and informative meditation on the Republican Congress members who have received money from the NRA, the same organization supporting gun laws that would supposedly increase the likelihood of similar shootings. Many of the same Republican Congressmen released conciliatory tweets after the events of the Parkland shooting, an event that had acted as a major source of the fervor among many anti-gun activists taking part in the April 20th Columbine Walkouts.
After the open-mic, students taking part in the walkout were encouraged to register to vote through a non-partisan organization. Students were not encouraged to register for any particular party, but rather simply take part in our democratic system, regardless of their political affiliation. Those who had already registered or were not registering during the event were given materials to create signs and banners covered with various slogans and deliberations on issues related to gun control and the NRA.
These activities were followed by a march around the school with previously made signs. Students running the demonstration encouraged participants to chant slogans like “enough is enough” and “hey, ho, the NRA has got to go” along with other bywords. As the demonstration continued, many of the stragglers who had come out simply to ditch class began to vacate the school premises, leading to a loss of steam and vigor. When asked how she felt about students using the walkout as a means to get out of class Danke Strope responded, “ They’re still listening. They’re still listening.”
Despite all of the energy displayed on that day, it is important to recall the roots of the demonstration. When asked what she thought about the protests, Kennedy senior Sienna Carrillo said, “I think we are showing people that we know what we are doing, and we see that there is a problem happening”. Carrillo continued with a widely acknowledged issue amongst young Americans, “By protesting we are showing that we want them to do something, we need [Congress] to change if they want to stay in office”, corroborating the common belief that many legislators, mostly on the Republican side of the aisle, are not working towards young America’s best interests.
“Guns have been used to threaten people and guns are… weapons made for violence. I don’t see a reason people to need guns…” Carrillo went on to explain why gun violence is important to her, “ Guns have been used to kill solely for bad reasons… They are saying they value their guns over are lives and that’s not okay.”
Not everyone was there to support the student walkout. Criticism from counter protester William Bren, a freshman, was the only apparent opposition during the walkouts; “I don’t like all this anti gun stuff. I’m pro gun, it’s our [2nd] amendment. Our forefathers believed that if the government [is] tyrannical we can fight them, and I still believe that…” While this is true, this argument ignores the fact that when the Second Amendment was passed in 1791, the deadliest small weapon was the musket, and the military was yet to be established. The danger that citizens must rise up against their government in a developed democratic country are few. When asked about what he thought about gun control legislation Bren responded, “…I think they should be torn down. The Government is not your friend, it’s your enemy.”
For the most part the protest was met with little disagreement among students, although, many students still did not actively take part in the event. Jessica Nunez’s advice to students who didn’t attend the walk out was to “…spread the word. We have social media outlets, it’s as simple as sharing something. You don’t have to verbally say it yourself to let people know about it. The biggest thing you can do is stay informed.”
The walkout lasted until the end of the school day, admittedly losing much of the momentum it began with earlier that day, but the message of the day remained. The walkout grabbed the attention of Sacramento officials, as local news sources The Sacramento Bee and KCRA3 reported on the events, alongside some of our own Kennedy Clarion reporters. The message that America needs gun control was clearly the leading issue on the minds of those Kennedy students participating in the walkout on April 20.
All photos by Karissa Jones, Clarion Staff