By Julia Reiker
“Somber yet empowering.”
These are the words of freshman student Malcolm Hall after he participated with a majority of the student body in the school walkout. The commemoration was done in honor of the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where seventeen students and teachers, were fatally shot. The shooting was the 18th one of this year, but unlike many others, the survivors of the MSD High School massacre were not just going to silently hold candle vigils and accept thoughts and prayers. Student survivors such as Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg have been leading a revolution, that has pulled the curtain on politicians who have been accepting ‘blood money’ from the National Rifle Association. These students have also led rallies, organized town hall meetings, such as the one with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, and on March 14, 2018, they organized a national (and in some cases international) student walkout.
While other schools across the country threatened detentions to students who participated, Oceana was in full support of students using their first amendment rights. Students distributed orange ribbon pins; orange was the symbolic color for the protest. Schools found different ways of protesting gun violence; Westmoor held a rally, Granada Hills formed an ‘enough’ sign made of students in the school football field, many students marched with peers through their hometowns, and students from Oceana held 17 minutes of silence for all victims.
However, the movement does end there. Students from Oceana will be holding a protest for better gun legislation on Friday, April 20. Students will march to neighboring schools, starting at 10:00 and will return to OHS at 2:30. The Friday walkout will likely be just as national, seeing as it lands on the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School.
I interviewed Stay Woke Club President Shaymaa Shukriya on her thoughts about the recent walkout and her vision for this Friday’s Protest.
Why was it important for OHS to get involved in the movement?
The more people that are involved, the more media coverage it gets and you know the government how they work: if there’s something that has a lot of coverage or a lot of pressure, they [the goverment] comply. So the more schools that participate…the higher the chance of gun reform.
What are your opinions on how our generation is handling this topic?
Our generation is doing better than the adults, and I think we’re being very mature in how we’re handling it, and we’re handling it with something that’s effective. We’re going out on the streets and protesting. Slowly, but surely, we are becoming a very effective, progressive, kind of generation.
Are you proud of how the March 14 walkout participants handled it?
Yes, I am, because it was so surprising that everyone stayed silent for seventeen minutes. There was no joking around or nothing. It was all serious, in silence and just respect throughout. And then everyone returned to their classes as expected, no one tried to skip school nor anything like that. So I think it went well.
Before the walkout took place, what were your fears going in?
I thought that it wasn’t gonna work out. We were really short on time for organizing, we only had a week. So I thought that we weren’t gonna have anything done that and that we weren’t gonna do anything. Period.
What do you have to say about students who choose not to March because of their beliefs?
They’re all entitled to their own opinion, and they all have the right not to protest. But it’s in their best interest to do so because it’s not only fighting to keep our school safe but to keep America safe. They [students who don’t protest] look into the facts of gun reform, and look at how other nations have handled gun control, and see how effective it was and then decide if they want to protest or not…
What do you say to people who are convinced this won’t help?
I say to them: look at the March on Selma… see where that lead… it was one of the key things that helped end segregation… they did so by marching… there have been many times in history where protests by marching did work… that’s what I would tell them, look at prior events and the effects of it, and what they got out of it.
What will be different at the April 20 march?
For one thing, we’re actually walking out of school, shining light students voices, and we’ll be going to different schools… it’s gonna be an official walkout.
How can students get involved to improve gun legislation in America?
You can participate in the April 20 walkout. And you can also contact your senators, , representatives, write letters, and etc.
This movement is the result of American youth experiencing gun violence on the news as consistently as weather reports. Whether it’s the underrepresented voices of low-income communities hearing gunshots outside their doors, or school shootings charged by white supremacist motives, students from Oceana stand with students across the nation for a change. At the end of the day, dead civilians are the product of careless gun legislation, not the politicians who create it. In that past, we have responded gun violence with ‘thoughts and prayers,’ but our generation is marching and speaking out. In the words of Shaymaa Shukriya “Who cares what other people think, this is something you believe in… just because they don’t agree with it does not mean you have to hold yourself back…you don’t wanna not gonna have a story to tell to your future kid… your future generations and have an experience or story.”