Decrying gun violence and mass shootings, students stage walk-out at Spencer Butte Middle School
Following the horrific mass shooting and killing of 19 schoolchildren and two faculty members in Texas this week, dozens of students walked out of Spencer Butte Middle School in Eugene to protest gun violence.
“Protect kids, not guns! Protect kids, not guns!” chanted the students, as they streamed out of the school building onto the front lawn.
Carrying signs that said, TEENS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE and THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS AREN’T ENOUGH, the middle schoolers demanded politicians do more to end mass shootings.
8th grader Piper Everts organized the walk-out. She’s aware mass shooters could be anywhere, even in a progressive community like Eugene.
“Every day we think, ‘Is this going to be the day that they come to our school? Who’s next?’” said Everts. “And so we have to worry for our own safety when we shouldn’t have to, because there are perfectly good laws that can be put in place that haven’t been.”
Standing nearby with a sign reading HONK IF YOU DON’T WANT YOUR KID GUNNED DOWN AT SCHOOL, Christine Everts applauded her daughter’s efforts.
“I think she’s handling it great,” she told KLCC. “She’s doing what she feels like she can do to make a difference. And right now, it’s just activism, but who knows what she’ll do in the future.
“Talking about what’s going on and telling the adults in her life that she doesn’t like it, and that she wants to do something to change it, is a fantastic way for her to advocate.”
The students observed a 21-minute period of silence, for the 21 victims killed by an 18-year-old gunman at Robb Elementary. They told KLCC that they want better gun laws and restrictions to avoid becoming future victims.
Piper Everts noted that the violence in Texas was around the anniversary of the May 21, 1998 Thurston School Shooting in neighboring Springfield. She plans to organize a letter-writing campaign to elected officials to compel them to pass reforms including background checks to reduce the risk of gun violence.
The Uvalde massacre has rekindled a familiar gun control debate: Congressional Republicans have pushed back against proposed restrictions and background checks, as Democrats urge their colleagues to reconsider.