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
Thanks for reading through to the end…
We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.
We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.
About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the News Editor of Mountain Xpress, coordinating coverage of Western North Carolina's governments, community groups, businesses and environment. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton
The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.