Students throughout the country plan to walk out of class at 10 a.m. Wednesday to protest gun violence — one month after 17 students were shot dead at a school in Parkland, Florida.
On Chicago’s West Side, high school senior Alex King helped organize a walkout at North Lawndale College Prep. Students there will wear all black clothing, and march in silence with pictures and memorials.
King joined WBEZ’s Melba Lara to discuss how North Lawndale students will remember the Parkland victims, as well as family and friends lost to gun violence right here in Chicago.
The walkout aims to bring the national spotlight to Chicago
Alex King: In Chicago, we have been going through violence for decades. It’s been too long where we have had to be silent throughout our struggles, our pain. We did this because we saw that what happened in Parkland, Florida, which was a tragedy, opened people’s eyes. We feel like since it opened them up, now the world, the nation, is watching and paying attention to gun violence. So why not bring their eyes to Chicago. It happened in Florida, it’s sad, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but what are we going to do about Chicago?
Each student will be honoring a specific victim of gun violence
King: We plan to be dressed in all black and have red tape on our mouths. The red tape symbolizes the silence that we have been going through and how we are going to be speaking up now. On that red tape will be a name or phrases about someone who has been lost due to gun violence in our community. We will be silent for 17 minutes to honor and show respect to the lives that were lost in Parkland. And we will march to Roosevelt and Kedzie, where I will be leading an African clap that we do at our school — used to show unity and respect, showing that we all are together, fighting for the same cause.
I will be remembering my nephew Daishawn Moore. He lost his life on May 28, 2017 due to gun violence. It was the last day of my junior year, his sophomore year. There was a car circling the block all day where he was on the porch with his girlfriend. They started shooting, and when he turned around to try and run away, he was shot in the back of his head and once in his back.
The students want an investment in resources
King: A lot of people don’t know [how tough it’s been on me] and can’t imagine it. But that’s another reason why we’re protesting: to get people to understand trauma, to bring awareness, to teach that these students do have a lot to deal with day in and day out. And that’s everywhere — not just in Chicago. Trauma is everywhere.
We are looking for investments in mental health, jobs, opportunities for the youth, and just awareness about normalizing situations. Because what happened in Florida is being talked about heavily and being discussed because it hasn’t happened for a long time there, but in Chicago, it happens day-to-day.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.