After walkouts, what’s next for Miami students and the gun control debate?

A group of Miamians decided to build on the energy from Wednesday’s #NationalWalkoutDay by gathering more than 100 students from across Miami to talk about gun control.

The event was hosted in the Liberty Square community center so that students from that area—who live with and see gun violence on a regular basis—could talk with students who don’t see gun violence as often.

“The media coverage they [Parkland] got is not the media coverage we get when lose a black male in this community,” said Janai Altenor, a 15-year-old Norland Senior High student.

The Dream Defenders, the Power U 305 organization and other community leaders organized the “Walk it, Talk It” event so that the students – who attend or graduated from high schools including Norland, Edison, Miami Northwestern and Marjory Stoneman Douglas – could share their reactions to the state’s new gun control law, and specifically, the plans to arm some school employees.

The students nearly unanimously agreed that they didn’t want teachers to be armed because teachers might take action when there isn’t a real threat or teachers could be targets themselves if a shooting took place.

The students also had concerns about putting more police in schools and said if that does happen, they hope to see more officers of color who reflect the communities that the schools serve. Also, they said they’d want students to have the chance to talk with and get to know those cops.

Others like Carlos Cordova, a 16-year-old Miami High student, said that the state should be focusing on adding more school resources, not arming teachers. Carlos also said reaching out to younger students, like some of the middle and elementary schoolers in the room, is key: “We’re starting a revolution. We’re the ones starting it, but it’s not ending with us.”

Matthew Deitsch, a 2016 grad of Stoneman Douglas, echoed that call to action: “If you don’t shut up, if you keep stressing this issue, then we will see change together.”

Looking for ways to get involved?

  • Members of the community group ICARE, along with the Dream Defenders, have organized a bus trip from Miami to Atlanta on March 22. Their final destination will be Washington, D.C. so they can attend  the March For Our Lives event on March 24. You can register for that trip here.
  • Next month the Dream Defenders will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death on April 4 with a “funeral procession” from Broward County to Liberty City. Follow them on Twitter for more info.

If you can’t make it to D.C. but want to participate in a local March For Our Lives rally, here’s a list from Miami New Times of where those are happening.