On Thursday afternoon, members of the Tufts community walked out to end gun violence and mourn the lives lost to the Parkland school shooting, assembling at the Tufts Cannon.
Around two dozen students and faculty members attended the walkout, which commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. that claimed the lives of 14 students and three faculty members.
Organizers Melanie Becker and Marley Hillman explained the intended significance of their event to the Daily.
“For one thing, [we] wanted to give a space to memorialize the 17 people that died that day and all of the other victims of gun violence in recent years,” Becker, a sophomore, said. “We wanted to give a space for anyone who has a connection to the movement, to the issue of gun violence, to come and speak.”
The Facebook page created for the event called on students to join them to “mourn the lives lost to gun violence every day in our communities, speak up against the National Rifle Association, and honor the memory” of the Parkland victims.
Becker, an alumna of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said that the organizers decided to stage a walkout rather than a different kind of event because of its symbolic importance throughout the gun violence movement.
“Walkouts have been the staple of the March For Our Lives movement,” Becker said. “It sends a much more powerful message than to just paint the cannon and leave it there hoping someone will see it or post an article on Facebook.”
Hillman explained that the commemoration is also intended to generate greater awareness about the gun violence epidemic.
“Holding such an event brings more attention than posting about it, yeah. The vibe of the rally, a walkout, or any form of visible, physical protest naturally generates more awareness, more views,” Hillman said. “It’s important to have an audience.”
The walkout began with a minute of silence in honor of the victims, whose names were read aloud to those attending.
After, several students shared personal stories about their experiences with gun violence. Becker said that the Parkland shooting shows that gun violence can happen anywhere, and it can affect anyone.
“Parkland was voted the safest city in Florida … I need you to understand this easily could happen to you,” Becker said during her speech.
Emily Aronson, a first-year, also spoke about the prevalence of gun violence and the urgency of bringing school shootings to an end.
“Every time you need to call your senator or congressperson, or rally your friends together, keep in mind that it happens all the time,” Aronson said during her speech. “Keep in mind that it could happen to you.”
Together, the remarks lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 lives lost to the Parkland shooting.
After the remarks, Becker thanked those who came, and the event ended.
When asked whether they intend to hold events in the future on the issue of gun violence, Becker and Hillman said they did not.
“There could be [events planned] in the future, but nothing at this time,” Hillman said. “As the need arises, we will mobilize.”