National School Walkout: Audio & Transcription

MR. BRIAN SECKER –  [Inaudible] For doing this. I’m so glad we have [inaudible] (Cheers)

And we’d like to thank our board members for being here as well, to have that support, it’s excellent to have that support.

[Inaudible] is here, I know her daughter goes here as well, so we’re happy to have her in the house.

I also want to say that, after talking to my SGA and seeing thousands of kids walk out there, I’m happy to announce, for every ticket sold we will be donating $1; so for every ticket sold, (applause) every ticket sold for spring fling will be $1 and we’re also gonna have a donation box set up if you want to donate to end gun violence. With that being said, we have lots of people who are going to speak to you here with me this morning starting is [inaudible].

(Cheers)

EVE MATTHEW – Hey y’all! Once again, my name is [inaudible], I’m a sophomore here at Roose [inaudible]. (cheers)

What I’m about to say, is very serious, it’s not gonna be funny, so if y’all, if y’all, I would really appreciate it if y’all would take a little bit more of a serious tone, if you just took time to listen, or if you don’t, let others take time to listen.

As students, we’re constantly learning: yes, I do mean mandatory learning, like the type that takes place within the walls of a classroom, where we soak up what we can about knowledge that lives within the walls of a textbook.

But to expand, I also mean the learning that comes from self, from others, and from the world around us. And might I say that it is crucial that where we do this type of learning is a safe space. As we live in a world where not everything is black and white, good and bad, or safe and unsafe, we become torn as individual selves. Those who look just like you, from a city just like yours, from a home just like yours, even listening to the same music that you listen to can just as easily go destroy life and pick black when you pick white. But do you brush along and dismiss them from your world because of it? No, no we don’t. We just find that sweet spot, that level of common ground where we reconcile with our common man, that place where all sisters and brothers are just trying to learn.

But no matter what we pick, and no matter where we’re from, when we see students just like ourselves, from that same town, same home, listening to the same music; when we see those same students gunned down in the school of Florida at the street of southeast by boys who have been so hurt and neglected that they felt [inaudible], we gotta retreat to that common ground.

We gotta learn what it is exactly that we as brothers and sisters believe, what we can agree on, what that common ground is; this common ground is, we believe that most– that all students must be safe in school, we believe that student activism — our activism — should be taken seriously, we believe that we must always engage in political activism for what we believe in, and we believe in mental support for each other, in the safe place that we call school.

We are as one, responsible for the well being of each other; once again, we are responsible for the brothers and sisters you see around this room today, for their well being. And I’d like to share with you a few words from Miss. [Inaudible], a powerful [inaudible], and she [inaudible] about how gun violence tears up a childhood, and when these children grow up they become men who make money off of violence of young people they used to be. Those men who read books and dress in suits could give a child a gun and just so, tell him to use it to drop that [inaudible] and children’s backyards were filled up with gun [graze?] where the gun [inaudible].

But no; gun [inaudible] were [inaudible], so now, men may rent out guns, like how they may rent out beds; a very sinuous trade. Who tells you [inaudible] when so many men are dead? So gun holding children, now have become gun men, decide which crimes will pay. And when you tell your friend, your son, your father, and when you [inaudible] in some ordinary evening, in his own blood, do you perhaps feel safest, you men who still read books, and dress in suits?

(Cheers)

Alright, thank you- thank you for listening. And, our next speaker, will be Sophia.

(Cheers)

SOPHIA – Hello everyone. We are all gathered here today to speak out about the need for our school to feel like a safe space, and so future generations of school children don’t have to be scared for their lives, instead of focusing on their education. We have all gathered here today to stand together against the hate that our friends, the students of Stoneman Douglass high school, receive daily just for fighting for their right to live.

We have all gathered here today because we all have a story to share, an opinion to express, a solution to act upon.

We have all gathered here today to stand in the face of dismissal and belittling.

Our government has made it known that they think our lives are arbitrary, insignificant, meaningless and that we deserve no such gun reform. They call us children. But how can we be children if we are forced to grow up so fast?

We have all gathered here today because we are beginning to rise up against a govt who knows that what we say is right, but does not have the courage or will to support us.

Instead, we need to realize that if we stop here, today will have never happened and tomorrow may be too late. From here we need to listen, we need to learn and we need to act. What does this mean? To listen means we need to hear everyone’s voice. We need to be aware of those who feel left behind, unheard, and alone. We need to be inclusive. We need to not just raise our own voice but to help raise others up with us. Learn. This means that we must not run into this blindly. Research the NRA, research our representatives position, research other movements, research solutions, and above all learn from others and learn from their experiences.

We must rise together as one voice and start a river that never dies. Today is not the last day we speak, for a silence means that we are allowing this violence.

Next, join us on March 24 for March for our lives in Washington DC, where we will join [inaudible].

(cheers)

April 20th is our day of solutions; share your solutions with our committee, create an action plan, and carry it out. We must write to our congressmen, spread the word through social media, and register to vote. We are the change.

Some have already started to say that this movement will die like its predecessors, that we cannot do anything to inspire change. Our government has already started destroying our progress. We must prove them wrong, our focus must stay firm. If we give up, we give up on our lives. We are strong; we must rise up.

And to all of those who say I speak from feelings, I say I do. I speak from anger that nothing is being done to protect your [inaudible] children. [inaudible] that so many have died and so many will die from gun violence and that their deaths will be neglected by the government. I speak from [inaudible] to all the families who have lost their children by the hand of the NRA and to have to watch this stuff on the news every day and see no change. Yes, I speak from my feelings. No child should have to feel this way. I ask all of you to make a pledge today. A pledge to continue speaking up for what you believe in, a pledge to channel your words into change. Thank you.

(Cheers)

EVE – Thank you Sophia. Next we will hear from [inaudible].

FATIMA – How are you guys doing today?

(Cheers)

[inaudible] “are we next?” That really is the true question. Let me give you a little bit of background information. Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, had a neighbor named [inaudible] and she called the police two weeks before the shooting saying Nikolas was gonna shoot up the school. Did the police listen to her? *audience says no!*

No. Nikolas was 3 years old when he killed a cat. He killed a cat, he killed a dog, he killed some animals and he shot -threw- a gun At his brother’s head. Did the police listen?

*crowd: no!*

So Nikolas was expelled, he did drugs, he did everything, and there were so many signs that this guy was mentally unstable. Again, did the police listen?

*crowd: no!*

Now here we are again, another school shooting, [inaudible] what we thought was going to be the last one, the first shooting we thought was going to be the last. And here we are again: people are dying, one of each [inaudible] we can all be shot one by one and what are we going to do?

We have no protection against [ourselves]. So we stand up as a body, we stand up as an army – we – this is a student army – we stand up as one and we fight for our rights. There should be no reason an 18-year-old should walk into a store, buy a military weapon, walk out and shoot students, if you cannot drink [at 18], you shouldn’t buy a weapon. If [you’re] not 21, you shouldn’t buy a weapon. [Inaudible] Students should not be dying. Students that were in geometry, students that were in algebra, whatever the subject is, we are one body, no death is acceptable of a child. [Inaudible] We come here united – some people went home, that’s on them – but we come here united because we believe in what is right. We believe that none of us should be dead – this is Spirit Week, this is a week where students celebrate. We believe that we should not be dead, we should not be able to die with any type of weapon – any type – we need to regulate our militia. We should not be walking in the death of so many students. Not students but teachers as well. Teachers should not have a gun. Teachers lock their guns up in their cabinets. By the time a shooter comes in, it takes them a minute for the teachers to walk in and get that gun. By the time it takes that a teacher to get that gun, everyone will be dead. [Inaudible]

EVE – What she said was all too true. [Inaudible] So now, next we’ll be hearing from Mia.

MIA – So I can see that some of you don’t take this serious, correct? And you don’t understand why we’re taking away from your time or you don’t this can happen to you. [Inaudible] Iowa City and [inaudible] and Virginia Tech and Oakland and [inaudible] and Sandy Hook and [inaudible] and I just named off ten school shootings. [Inaudible] Why is it every time there’s a mass shooting or a school shooting, we find ourselves begging for the same things, correct? We’re begging for justice for our family, justice for our friends, for gun control, for gun reform. But we’re denying [inaudible], correct? And, and, in our schools and our communities and, and, our homes, there’s no space for an assault rifle. But I need you to listen to this because there’s this thing called the second amendment that gives us the right to bear arms for the protection and security of the people – that’s, that’s for a musket, not an AR-15. A weapon of mass destruction, a weapon that can kill 27 students instantly! But you’re telling me he can hold that. So I’m going to come to you today because I can’t have this no more. Come today, everyone in here, be a part of this change ‘cause I need you to understand that we have to come together. ‘Cause the only way people will listen is if we’re together as one…this is the beginning, this is not the end, we stand together. So today, go home, make a friend, understand the importance of this. Thank you.

EVE – And I know y’all are tired but were gonna be hearing from our final speaker, Mr. [].

[] – Hello, good morning…I’d like to speak about something very important, a thing that’s dear to my heart, and it’s mental health. Mental health. What is it? The Merriam Webster [inaudible] dictionary describes it as the condition of being sound mentally and emotionally that is characterized by the absence of mental illness and by adequate adjustment especially as reflected in feeling comfortable about oneself, having positive feelings about others, and being able to meet the demands of daily life;  also, the general condition of one’s mental and emotional state. If this is the definition of mental health, do you think whether – whenever – news anchors said people suffer from it, really do? I personally don’t think so. For shooters in our country, the scapegoat for them has always been mental illness. But do you really think that is the case? Living with mental illness is always being in fear of being hated by everyone, always thinking that [I won’t amount to anything] and feel trapped in your own mind, unable to properly think. Living with mental illness also [inaudible] the outcome of all your decisions. If you did it correctly, or what if you did [inaudible]. Living with mental illness is compulsively thinking over and over again about the little things you’re stressing over all day until you can’t take it anymore. Living with mental illness is like seeing a ladder to take you out of the well and while climbing out of the ladder, the ladder breaks beneath you, and you fall deeper and deeper into a well, until you fall and get submerged into water, concealing all of the light, leaving you into darkness, but you have to act like you can see the light and you are doing well. The struggle is to always put up a façade, to not worry about what the people around you. That is what it’s like to live with mental illness. That is okay. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to inform others about the issue. It’s okay to not be ashamed about it. But what is not okay is when people to ridicule you for having one. It is not okay to [inaudible]. It is not okay for people to speak on mental illness, not properly informed, and trying to treat it like it’s a [inaudible]. It is not. It is especially not okay for shooters in the country’s scapegoat in court to be mental illness when it is clearly not the issue. And it is so. Let’s implement [inaudible] talk about it, students that have mental problems can seek help. So that we do not have any more…Virginia Techs, Sandy Hooks, [inaudible] or [inaudible], [inaudible], and especially any more Parklands. Thank you.

EVE – Alright. So I lied, this is not our last speaker, even though that’s a perfect note to end on. We’re going to have one final word from Chloe. [Inaudible]

CHLOE – Hi, I’m Chloe. And I’m a sophomore. In the time that we planned this rally and march for our school, many people have asked me and other people involved: What the point of this walkout if we’re just going to go back in and resume our lives? As for me, I responded that our rally today is the start of political action at Roosevelt. I know that many students recognize the severity of the actions at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And we’re inspired by the words of Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, survivors of the shooting. What I want my fellow students to get out of my words today is that we can take action. As Emma Gonzalez put very simply, Nikolas Cruz wouldn’t have been able to kill that many people with a knife. Under federal law, licensed firearm distributors sell rifles, such as the AR-5, to people 18 and over. The way the 19-year-old shooter obtained this weapon was perfectly legal. How can we put semi-automatic weapons capable of killing as fast as you can pull the trigger in the hands of a teen? We as a school safety movement want to raise the minimum purchase age for a rifle from 18 to 21. The way students can influence changes like these is through voting for representatives that support your opinions and contacting current congressional representatives to list your demands. If you are 16 years old you can take your phone out right now and preregister to vote. Write a text to 88683 and in the subject say ‘P2V’ and you’ll get a message that directs you to information about registering to vote. If you are 18 years old you can go to vote.gov and select Maryland and click ‘find out how to register’ and register to vote right there… go to at dot everytown dot org to find forms that you can fill out to contact your representatives and share your concerns. These are the ways that we share our voice. All those who walked out today showed the strength and power of this generation and the strong stubborn will that we have to get our way. We encourage you to take part in the march for our lives and the [inaudible] that we will be hosting at our school on April 20 and most importantly we encourage you to speak your mind about issues you are passionate about in your community and in your country. Thank you.

EVE – And one last thing before you go, wanna make sure that we all know how deeply this issue resonates with us. You don’t have to – but if anyone in this room has lost a loved one to gun violence at a terribly young age or any age at all, please raise your hand. (hands raise) Look around the room…this is why we’re doing what we’re doing. This is ridiculous and we can’t accept it, alright? Thank you so much for you time and your participation.