More than 100 Central Valley and University High School students gathered at Terrace View Park in Spokane Valley Friday morning to protest gun violence for National Walkout Day.
Central Valley High School Junior Marissa Kenney, who organized the rally along with five other students from both high schools, said gun violence awareness and prevention is an important issue that impacts students.
“It’s time for us to start standing up for our lives because the adults haven’t done anything,” she said.
Students, some with signs reading, “Protect kids, not guns” and “We’ll stand for those who fell,” gathered around a picnic table used as a podium for several student speakers to voice their thoughts on the importance of safety in schools.
Tables were set up with volunteers helping students to register to vote.
Kenney – who said she faced harassment, bullying and social media threats after the event was announced – said the group spent 80 hours organizing the rally.
“We truly put so much work into this,” she said. “We believe this will truly make a change and we will do everything we can to prevent gun violence in the future.”
Central Valley School District spokeswoman Marla Nunberg said the district will follow normal attendance policies for students that attended the rally – a nonschool sanctioned event – by allowing an excused absence if their parents gave permission through the school’s attendance line.
Rally attendee and Central Valley High School senior Kendall Sessions said she doesn’t believe in an outright ban on guns or Second Amendment rights, but is in favor of some form of regulation that prevents an 18-year-old from walking into Walmart and purchasing an assault rifle.
There were more than 10 counterprotesters attending the rally. One student held up a Trump flag, while another held a sign reading “ Stop blaming guns for problems in society you choose to ignore.”
University High School sophomore Vincent Loss said he came to the rally to show support for the Second Amendment, but doesn’t think the rally will change gun policy.
He said there should be better programs in place for mental health, rather a focus on more stringent gun laws.
Kenney said she hopes the event will help students realize their actions and voices can truly make a difference in this world.
“We can vote soon and the future is in our hands,” Kenney said.
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