Several hundred students from Asheville-area schools gathered in front of the Vance Monument before marching to Pack Square Park on Friday, April 20, in protest of gun violence and support of gun law reform. The rally, organized by student leaders from Odyssey High School, was part of a nationwide student walkout on the anniversary of the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Chanting slogans such as “No more silence, end gun violence” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go,” the students toted handmade signs while streaming into Pack Square Park. Odyssey student leaders and North Carolina General Assembly District 115 representative John Ager then spoke to the assembled crowd.
As explained in their press release about the event, the Odyssey student leaders hoped to express support for three specific pieces of national legislation: H.R.4268, the “Gun Safety: Not Sorry Act of 2017”; S.2009, the “Background Check Expansion Act”; and S.1916, the “Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act.” Taken together, these bills would add a waiting period for certain firearms and accessories, require background checks for currently exempt sales and ban bump-fire stocks of the type used in a 2017 shooting in Las Vegas.
Student protestors gather behind the Vance Monument. Photo by Daniel Walton
STOP SIGNS: Many students at the downtown rally on April 19 carried handmade posters to protest gun violence. Photo by Daniel Walton
Some signs referenced the personal experiences of students in shooting situations. Photo by Daniel Walton
Other signs promised consequences for politicians who did not support gun law reform. Photo by Daniel Walton
Student protestors appealed to passing cars in front of the Vance Monument. Photo by Daniel Walton
This sign referenced the larger history of successful nonviolent protest. Photo by Daniel Walton
Odyssey High School student leaders addressed the crowd before moving on to Pack Square Park. Photo by Daniel Walton
The students marched from Vance Monument to Pack Square Park while chanting and holding signs. Photo by Daniel Walton
This sign compared the Generation Z experience with technological change to the political process. Photo by Daniel Walton
Asheville City Hall looms in the distance as student protestors head into Pack Square Park. Photo by Daniel Walton
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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and a reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton
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