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Gun protests at local schools

Posted on 27 March 2018 by calvin

Roosevelt students, teachers, join nationwide protest against gun violence

Article and photos by JILL BOOGREN
Hundreds of students and teachers walked out of Roosevelt High School at 10am on Mar. 14, as similar walkouts took place at thousands of schools throughout Minnesota and across the country.

Holding signs (photo right) that read “Stop killing students,” “Detener la violencia” (Stop the violence), and “Stop shooting & start living,” demonstrators chanted “What do we want? Safer schools! When do we want it? Now!” They called for ending gun violence and shamed the National Rifle Association. Drivers honked as they passed by, drawing cheers from the students.

The walkout lasted 17 minutes, in remembrance of each of the 17 people killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, one month before to the day.

A few neighbors watching the demonstration from across the street (photo left)  applauded as students made their way back into the building. Pastor Brenda Froisland of Bethel Lutheran Church said she “had their backs” and was there to support in any way it was needed.

“I rely on our youth to deliver the message,” said Froisland. “I’m sorry we haven’t made the difference for them.”

Photo right: Students gather outside Roosevelt High School for 17 minutes on Mar. 14 to remember the 17 victims of the school shooting in Florida and protest gun violence.

Kathy Nelson, a second-generation Roosevelt alumnus, looking forward to her 50th class reunion this year, also showed her support.

“I feel like what we couldn’t accomplish, they’re going to,” said Nelson. “I’m so excited for change.”

Photo left: Students holding up signs on the sidewalk in front of Roosevelt High School on Mar. 14.

The protest was initiated by Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, using the hashtag #Enough. Their website showed more than 3,100 schools participating across the country, although many additional schools, including Roosevelt High School, participated without signing up.

The Mar. 14 walkout followed one that took place Feb. 21, in which dozens of students left Roosevelt High School and joined other demonstrators at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park before marching to City Hall. By and large students here, as nationwide, are expressing frustration over gun violence and adults’ failure to enact meaningful gun reform.

“There have also been other shootings, and nothing’s been done,” said Charly Tiempos, a ninth grader who joined the protest in February. “Kids are taking control instead of adults.”

The movement shows no signs of slowing. According to Roosevelt Teacher Sasha Yunginger, eight Roosevelt students were planning to board a bus to Washington D.C. to participate in the March For Our Lives protest on Mar. 24 (after the Messenger deadline).

Another national school walkout is planned for Apr. 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.





Photo right: Roosevelt students join students from Washburn and other high schools at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park for a march to City Hall on Feb. 21.





Photo left: Signs posted in the window of The Aliveness Project on Nicollet Ave., where demonstrators were met with applause.




Photo right: A student holds a sign at the Mar. 14 demonstration.






Seventeen teachable moments at Hale School memorial/protest

Although the temperature at 10am hovered just below the freezing point, nearly 150 people showed up at Hale Elementary School in the Nokomis Neighborhood on Mar. 14.

They were protesting gun violence and were there to remember the Parkland High School students, staff, and educators who died in a school mass shooting only one month earlier.

Photo right: A lot of parents showed up to say ‘We stand with students’ at the Mar. 14 protest/remembrance. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Hands Around Hale was one of 2,500 similar gatherings around the country, one of more than 75 that took place around Minnesota. Minneapolis schools officials said that peaceful walkouts would be allowed as long as students stayed on the school property, but Hale is a grade school, so there was no walkout. Instead, parents who wanted their kids to participate in the event signed their kids out of school. For those parents, the protest was a 17-minute teachable moment.

“A few people called and asked about this,” said Assistant Principal Steven Uhler. “Some parents didn’t want to do this because of the kid’s young age, but others wanted their kids to be involved.” (Photo left by Stephanie Fox)

Jana Kooren, the Public Educations and Communications Director of the Minnesota ACLU, said that her organization supported the Hale School policy. “We support free speech and the right to protest. We hope schools allow students to participate in a way to foster civic pride. It’s a great learning moment, and students should be allowed to do this without facing consequences.”

Photo right: Illiana Frissel, with her grandfather Joel Halverson, who said: “It’s time to turn the tide of gun violence.” (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Joel Halverson came to Hale to sign out his granddaughter, Illiana Frissell, and to stand together with other parents, grandparents, and neighbors. “I’m an educator,” said Halverson. “It’s time to turn the tide of gun violence.”

“I came to help save people from guns,” said Illiana, who is in the 3rd grade. “I am here to remember the kids who died of gun violence. There’s a sign on our school that says, ‘No Guns,’ and you should respect that.”

Lauren Venem decided to let her kindergarten-aged daughter stay in class, but brought Maple, her daughter’s service dog instead, saying, “Maple keeps my daughter safe, so I brought her along, instead.”

Social media announcements about the event brought a mixed online reaction. “These kids need to be taught some real history,” said one Facebook post. “We the people need our guns.”

But, many were supportive. “I do see that this event is less protest and more demonstration of love,” said another.

Photo left: Ellen Flory arrived with her two young children to honor the Florida students. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Megan Honigman, an organizer of the event, said she was motivated by her daughter, a student at Hale.

“My daughter is in 2nd grade and has been terrified of the Code Red drills, the active shooter drills,” Honigman said. “I was there last year when they had a drill, and they told the kids that there was a dog in the hall. Then one of the boys said, ‘There’s no dog. It’s in case they are trying to shoot us.”

“I try to tell her she doesn’t have to be worried about being killed while she learns in school. I tell her that parents are here to protect you. Schools should be a place of learning and fun,” Honigman said. “I am hoping this will help.’

During the memorial, as the demonstrators grasped hands to form a human chain around the school while neighbor Jennifer Kennard sounded a chime 17 times, one a minute, a chime for each person who died at Parkland High School.

Among those attending were Rep. Jean Wagenius. “How could I not be here?” she said. “Citizens are speaking out.”

Photo right: Neighbors, parents, and students protest gun violence at ‘Hands Around Hale’ on Mar. 14. (Photo by Stephanie Fox)

Former City Council Member John Quincy attended as well. “This is a tremendous coming together of people,” he said. “And, it’s a call to action, part of something bigger than just this one event. It’s special, and it’s bringing us together.”

“I thought it was amazing,” said Honigman. “We didn’t know what would happen, but looking at the parents circling the school and seeing the strength of the parents who went there as a way to protect their kids, I know that this was a way to let our children and their educators know that as voters, we demand a change.”

The movement, she said, is getting bigger. “A lot of us didn’t know what to do, but now we’ll be working with the parents of this school and are talking about getting together with parents from other schools. We are just trying to figure out things as we go.”

“A lot of the people I talked to,” she said, “told me that we don’t know exactly what we can do to change things. But, if you have a group of people together, you can say to each other, ‘we can do something.’ You can say, ‘we can make a difference.’ And maybe, there will be a snowball effect.”


Protests also prevalent at South High and Dowling Elementary

Photo below: On the one month anniversary of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, students and teachers at South High School walked out of their classrooms at 10am on Mar. 14. Their silent march around the school building lasted 17 minutes, to honor each of the 17 victims of the recent shooting. At another neighborhood event, parents joined hands in 17 minutes of silence at Dowling Elementary School. Similar events took place across the country to raise awareness about issues of school safety and the impact of gun violence. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

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