C-U High School Students To Protest For More Gun Control
Students from eight high schools in the Champaign-Urbana area will stage a demonstration Saturday to call for stronger gun control measures. The protest is one of hundreds of similar events happening across the country - including Washington D.C. - under the moniker "March For Our Lives."
The march is the latest student-led demonstration to take place in Champaign-Urbana in the aftermath of a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last month.
March organizer Zanden Duncan said the shooting has had a big impact locally.
“The students have become a lot more active,” said Duncan, 18, a senior at Champaign’s Central High School.
Another march organizer, Elizabeth Singer, said she expects 1,000 students to participate in the demonstration. Local groups representing causes ranging from immigration to voting rights will also attend the demonstration in solidarity with the students, said Singer, a senior at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana.
Singer said local legislators are invited to attend the protest, but the focus of the demonstration will be on student speakers, including several survivors of gun violence.
She said students were prompted to take action because “the current state of gun legislation is a threat to students everywhere.” That threat is greater for students of color and students with guns in their home, Singer added.
She said she's frustrated by legislative inaction on gun control on the national and regional level. For example, she said she was upset by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent veto of bill that, if enacted, would have required the state to license and regulate Illinois gun shops.
“I also think it’s really easy for wealthy politicians to not see themselves in the victims of gun violence,” Singer said.
Singer, 17, said this week’s primary election marked the first time she was able to vote. She said many of the students who will be participating in Saturday’s demonstration are already of voting age, or will be soon. She wants lawmakers to take the following message away from Saturday’s demonstration:
“We will not re-elect you if you don’t prioritize our lives. We will not tolerate you taking money from the NRA. We will not tolerate you not passing really, really common sense legislation,” she said.
Other students involved in the event attend Champaign’s Centennial High School and St. Thomas More High School, Urbana High School, Unity High School in Tolono, Monticello High School, and Mahomet Seymour High School. Students will host another demonstration on April 20. Singer said the event will feature a teach-in led by students to educate their peers about current gun laws and how to lobby their local lawmakers for reforms.
The march will take place Saturday at Douglass Park in Champaign from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.