Students Call for Gun Reform at State House Rally
Students and young people from across the state gathered on the steps of the Rhode Island State House Tuesday. The “Student Power Rally” advocated for the end of gun violence and underscored the importance of students’ rights.
The event, organized and lead by members of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, was a call for action at the state level and also a way to debut the new Student Rights Handbook, which was created with help from the Rhode Island ACLU, Youth Empowerment Strategy (YES!ri), Young Voices, Providence Student Union, Students Demand Action, and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. The event was planned, organized, and led by students and young people with Warwick youth playing a major role.
The Student Rights Handbook includes tips and information on how to organize protests in public, especially in the school environment. It also gives information on developing political clubs at school. The purpose is to “educate all students about their right to protest inside school, outside school, at the State House, and what they can do to get involved in their schools and in their communities,” said Grace Reed, who recently graduated from Toll Gate High School as valedictorian. Reed, who will attend Brown this fall, emceed the event and introduced the speakers as they went to the podium.
In the handbook, the First Amendment is referenced, and it is followed by an explanation of how students can “speak freely, peacefully assemble, protest in public spaces, and photograph or videotape law enforcement in any public space in a non-disruptive manner.” Additionally, there is a six-step guide to planning protests or other forms of action in school included in the handbook. There is also a list of seven “quick ways” to get involved in political or civic situations.
Student speakers shared their thoughts and their experiences of gun violence. Angelina Hall, a freshman at Mt. Pleasant High School in Providence, told her story about a family friend who she had seen get shot with her own eyes.