CHICAGO – As schools across the country and Chicago walked out Wednesday to raise awareness of school shootings and gun laws, teens at one Chicago school sent a different message today.
They want attention on the violence that plagues their community virtually every day.
About 100 students and activists at North Lawndale College Prep Campus held a silent, somber march, with many of the students wearing red tape over their mouths with the names of loved ones who have been killed by gun violence. The tape, they say, is symbolic of how they suffer in silence when it comes to the trauma it causes.
Senior Jeneca Jones says she feels stripped of her childhood.
“At one point I had suicidal thoughts because losing the ones I love was draining me, especially when it happens constantly,” she said.
Students and activists marched from the school on 16th and Christiana to its other campus across from Douglas Park. There they planted 10 crosses with pictures of young people lost to gun violence.
Senior Nancy Ramirez lost an older brother and a close friend to gun violence and her mother was shot multiple times in their home.
“My sister has anxiety, my brother has anger issues and my other brother has schizophrenia, these are all things that took into effect my mother was shot and to this day we still don`t have the proper resources for their need but what we do have is a high murder rate, drugs in our streets and city full of undiagnosed PTSD victims,” she said.
The students are part of a new student movement called “Good Kids Mad City.” They are calling for more investment in communities devastated by gun violence, by way of mental health services, trauma centers and jobs opportunities.
Alex King is one of the student leaders. Earlier this month, he was part of a group of students who traveled to Parkland, Florida to meet with survivors of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting. He says while they stand in solidarity with the students there, they want others to keep in mind shootings happen in Chicago on a regular basis.
“This isn`t state to state, it is not black or white, it`s not racial or anything,” King said. “This is a matter of life and death, so we want to create change throughout the nation.”
Editor’s Note: In WGN’s video, Kobey Lofton is identified as a senior. Kobey is actually a sophomore. WGN regrets the error.