More than 100 teenagers at Rocky River High School joined thousands of their fellow students across Ohio Wednesday who observed 17 minutes of silence in honor of the victims of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. There, the demonstration was about more than just the victims.
A number of student demonstrations across the country were organized solely to honor those killed in the nation’s third deadliest school shooting on Feb. 14. But in Rocky River, the student organizers were also calling on members of Congress to enact stricter gun laws to prevent future shootings.
Seventeen-year-old senior Ariel Russell wants an increase to the minimum age for purchasing firearms and to restrict semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines.
“But a lot of me is genuinely worried that it is going to take my generation to do this because we haven’t been listened to by legislators.”
Her classmate, 18-year-old Duncan Feighan, agrees.
“I hope that this entire country stands up in inspiration of us and puts an end to this. Put an end to this partisan politics that has infected the issue of gun violence.”
Wednesday marked one month since the Parkland shooting.
Students at Westlake High School were among the first in Ohio to hold a walkout as more students held demonstrations across the country, Westlake students say they decided to move beyond advocacy to action.
Sixteen-year-old Molly Finucane helped organize a Feb. 21 walkout at Westlake High School to honor the students who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a week earlier. But Wednesday, Westlake students decided to take a different approach.
“We’ve already as a high school made a statement of walking out so then instead we’re doing what we’re calling Justice Fair.”
Finucane, her classmates and her administrators worked together to organize the fair that included a station to register to vote and help writing letters to members of Congress—some in support of and some against additional gun restrictions.
“And so we’re hoping that in doing that it will create real change because this is more action based.”
Dozens of Northeast Ohio schools held vigils Wednesday, gathering outside their schools for 17 minutes of silence to remember the students and teachers killed in Parkland.