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Support, don’t silence, protestors

NEW ORLEANS (April 13, 2018) – As a child, we often are told to have a “closed mouth and open ears” because grownups are speaking, but now it is time for the adults to stop talking and listen to the younger generation's as they fight for their rights.

On March 14, students and teachers around the country walked out of class for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students who lost their lives in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting last month and to protest gun violence.

But instead of standing with the students, who are fighting for gun control, parents started the #WalkUpNotOut movement on Twitter.

Ryan Petty, the father of one of the students killed in last month’s shooting, began this movement to create a better school environment; he suggests walking up to the lonely kid in the corner who eats by himself and invite him to eat with your group.

“The #March4OurLives supporters will accomplish only two things,” his post on Twitter said, “1) They’ll exercise their First Amendment right. 2) They’ll get a little exercise. If you want to stop the next school shooter, #WalkUpNotOut.”

But what this campaign does is take away the attention from the real matters the students are fighting for and instead of blaming the students for school shootings. This movement says the problem is not the guns; instead, the issue is the students are not kind enough to each other.

Parents and adults alike who support this movement are blaming the victim: the students. This movement is trying to tell the students their voices are irrelevant because they are the problem. But what people seem to forget is students have been fighting for what is right for years.

Consider the Greensboro sit-ins in 1960, the lunch counter sit-ins by the Greensboro Four that led to creation of national organizations to be formed and for American history to be changed. Another example would be the University Uprisings in 1968, when students at Howard University took over the administration building until the demands were met.

When students come together, change can happen, and students across the country know a change needs to occur concerning gun control. Gun control is the primary issue. Stop trying to change focus to blame students. Instead, let’s focus on the real problem.

These students are fighting for their lives and exercising their civil right to assemble and protest for gun control peacefully. The students are doing what the “adults” in power should be doing, which is fighting for change.

The #WalkUpNotOut movement’s message would be great if its founder didn’t couple it with trying to silence the victims in school shootings.

Yes, “kindness” is a great thing, and we should all be kind to one another, but “kindness” is not going to stop school shootings. Gun control and people not having such easy access to weapons could potentially end them.

Adults are once again telling students to “mind their manners” or that this is “grown-up business” which it is not when instead they are discouraging political activism.

When is American culture going to become “kind”?

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Support, don’t silence, protestors