#Enough: Long caught in violence, Chicago students demand change

World Today

Across U.S., Students Walk Out Of Schools To Address School Safety And Gun Violence Students march through the violence-prone Little Village community after walking out of their classes at Community Links High School on March 14, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

Cities across the U.S. are dealing with gun violence each and every day, especially communities in Chicago. So when students across the U.S. walked-out of classes to protest a school massacre in Florida, many young people in the Windy City joined that call for change.

CGTN’s Dan Williams has more.

It was a sign of support and solidarity, as hundreds of students from the Perspectives High School of Technology in Chicago staged a walkout. The march was part of the national #Enough movement, calling for stronger gun laws, while also paying tribute to those killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida last month.

The issue of gun violence resonates loudly here. More than 3,500 people were shot last year in the Windy City.

“It’s a plague. It’s an epidemic,” student Kray Butler Jr. said. “It is becoming more and more intrusive. Shootouts are happening. One of the cousins I lost, he was minding his business at a park playing basketball, but a shootout happened, and unfortunately he was shot and killed.”

Scars of Chicago’s gun violence are not hard to find. Makeshift memorials and outdoor message boards show pictures of just some of the children killed in the area.

Lamar Johnson runs Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere, and recently joined a group that paid a visit to the Parkland survivors in Florida.

“You have to come to the reality and say that gun violence is affecting everybody. What happened at Parkland just woke the country up,” he explained. “I would say it gave me the opportunity to share to the Parkland students, that what you experienced for six minutes, we experience every day.”

Others have a different view. About 50 miles away in Crystal Lake, people young and old are busy at a shooting range.

Tom Dorsch is the director of operations at On Target Range and Tactical Training Center, and says it’s wrong to simply focus on gun owners.

“They don’t understand that 99.9 percent of people who have a gun are safe gun-owners,” according to Dorsch. “And I want to say this: that nobody cries more for these children of gun violence than gun owners. It’s not the law abiding gun owners who should be on trial here, and have more and more rights taken away.”

Since the Parkland massacre, the focus has shifted to ways to stop school gun attacks. One suggestion is to allow teachers the chance to carry a concealed weapon.

This idea has the backing of Tonya Franklin, a National Rifle Association certified instructor.

“I am even offering free firearm safety and training classes to teachers that want to sign up for them right now for their concealed carry,” she said. “They should have that opportunity to make that decision.”

Many, however, feel that does not address the root cause.

Gun control remains an increasingly polarizing issue. For many of these students who marched, it has also become a movement. They’re determined that their voices not only be heard, but also create action. 

“I am actually going to be the change. It is not what I want to see, it is what I am going to do,” Marian Funches said. “I am letting them know what I want to do. Trying to be a part of something bigger.”