OUSD NEWSROOM PRESS RELEASE:
Edna Brewer Middle School Students Prepare for Nationwide Gun Violence Protest
Oakland, CA — Today, March 14, is the somber one month anniversary of the attack at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed. Today is also the day when students across the country will be demonstrating during school hours and calling for change. Oakland students will be among those making a powerful statement about guns and gun violence.
In preparation for this student-driven movement, on Monday, March 12, students at Edna Brewer Middle School received a lesson about the tragedy in Parkland, gun violence in Oakland and the issue of guns in our nation.
Students first watched a news clip from CNN in the days after the attack at Stoneman Douglas in which anchor, Anderson Cooper talked about what happened and about each of the 17 people who died. After sharing a photo of each of them and a short description of their lives, Cooper said their name again, then said, “we will remember.”
The video sparked deep conversation among the students, who are very close in age to some of the victims. “It scares kids to not want to go to school. What if a crazy person comes in school with a gun and they try to shoot me,” asked 7th grader and one of Edna Brewer’s student organizers, Kira Johnson. “We just want to show we are in support of the victims not just in Florida but in all of the places like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and any deaths caused by guns. And to show that we as youth think it’s not OK.”
Monday’s lesson included statistics, such as America’s gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries, and that there were 72 homicides in Oakland last year, most of them committed with a gun. “I thought the lesson was good. Oakland was in the top five in gun killings (per capita in the nation),” said 7th grader and student organizer, Katrina Pimentel. “I don’t like guns in general. They’re scary. I think there should be more laws.”
The students also got to create signs for the March 14 demonstration which carried messages such as No Guns, Never Again and We Will Remember. “This could happen to us. Being a child can already be stressful. Adding guns is too much. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about what if I go to school today,” said Kira Johnson. “We stand with the world. Oakland is such a diverse community. We don’t want this to happen in our state, our sanctuary.”
Regarding the President’s proposal to arm school teachers, students said it’s a bad idea. “If a teacher had a mental issue, they could use the gun against the students when mad,” said Katrina Pimentel.
Edna Brewer Middle School 7th graders and student leaders (L-R) Kira Johnson, Savanna Batto and Katrina Pimentel who helped plan the school’s anti-gun violence activities.
Science teacher, Jeri Schneider Johnstone said last week she and her students tried to write postcards to the young people at Stoneman Douglas, but it turned into a conversation about gun violence here in Oakland. Many of Johnstone’s students know someone affected by gun violence, and while fighting back tears, she said the conversation turned deeply emotional. “It’s very important for us to support the students understanding of socio-political events. These school shootings are like a storm. Here in Oakland it’s more of a drip drip drip. Every week we see on the news about someone affected by gun violence,” said Johnstone.
On March 14, the students at Edna Brewer will demonstrate outside, hold restorative justice circles and post their signs on the fences adjacent to the street. Students at many other OUSD schools will be holding similar activities to remember the lives lost in Florida and to call for change.