MNUDL Debaters Join Student Walkout for Gun Safety

Aesha with Protestors

Aesha Graffunder, Roosevelt High School debater, joins the protest. | Photo by Alex Kormann, Star Tribune

On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of teens led a protest in downtown Minneapolis, demanding action on gun control after the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

One Washburn High School debater, who asked to remain anonymous, told us:

At the walkout, kids came together and kids, young children, and teens alike, were asking for education: a safe one. Not one where we think about what could happen if someone comes into our school with a gun, or what if we can’t get to our prepared and practiced code red placements. All of us have been practicing what to do in a code red since kindergarten. The threat of gun violence was never something we didn’t know about, but it even felt like something normal; and that is a horrifying thought, that kids are used to the idea of gun violence in our schools, a place where we want to learn.

We walked out today hoping that kids in the future don’t spend their days at school thinking about the possibility of gun violence in our schools. We just want a safe school environment, which personally, I don’t think it’s a big ask.

Debaters from Washburn High School, Roosevelt High School, South High School, area middle schools, and beyond were represented in the protests.

Student Protest

Jade Masiee-Albers, a South High School student who took the above photo, tells us:

During the walkout, there was so much diversity. Older and younger students of many different cultures walked out against gun violence. It was beautiful to see everyone stand together in solidarity. It is so important to take action in stopping gun violence, and I hope that as students, we continue to take matters into our own hands and stand up for what we believe in.

Ridwan H. wants to share this statement with you:

Guns have become a higher priority than students. We are the only country that worries about their kids getting killed at school. It’s disgusting and it should stop now!! No to GUN VIOLENCE.

Hodan T., debater at South High School, adds advice to others who want to speak up:

“Become a lion, not a sheep; a leader, not a follower.”

This is not the first time MNUDL students have been involved in school walkouts. In Spring 2018, debaters helped organize the March for Our Lives in reaction to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Previous walkouts have also been organized in protest of Student Resource Officer (SRO) presence in schools, solidarity with immigrants, and more.

The MN Urban Debate League stands in solidarity with students as they fight for their future and a safe place to learn. Although the walkout is over, there are more opportunities to show your support. This Friday, June 3rd, marks the 8th National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend. We plan to come together and Wear Orange to raise awareness and honor the more than 110 people who are shot and killed, and hundreds more who are wounded, every day in our country.

To the students who are standing up for their future: thank you for your courage and advocacy in raising your voice. Voice, Power, Change is more than our motto; we see you engage in them every day.