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Students protest General Assembly’s lack of action on Safe Schools Act



Rhode Island students “from Cranston, North Providence, Smithfield, Greenville, Coventry, Lincoln, Providence, Rumford, Warwick, Barrington and more” protested the slow response of the General Assembly to take action in the wake of recent school shootings. At the end of the Pledge of Allegiance, students, wearing black t-shirts with red shooting targets on their backs, turned their backs to the House Floor and put their hands on their heads, a universal sign showing the vulnerability of students in our schools.

The action is a protest against the lack of action on the part of legislators to pass the Safe Schools Act (H7591/S2289), a bill that would eliminate a Rhode Island loophole that allows anyone (including teachers, janitors, bus drivers, school volunteers, parents, etc) with a concealed carry permit to bring a gun into Kindergarten-12th grade schools and sports events without notifying administration that they are armed with a lethal weapon.

“Even if the Safe Schools Act saves one life, it’s worth it,” said Tollgate High School Valedictorian, Grace Reed. “We’ve banned lawn darts and Kinder Surprise Eggs in the United States, so obviously were not opposed to passing regulatory legislation to protect our people. Banning the concealed carry guns in schools will help prevent both tragic accidents and intentional incidents of gun violence in the future. That is why I protested today, because I understand we need change now.”

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence hopes that this incredible outpouring of student support will be enough to persuade legislators across the state that enough is enough, and common sense gun safety bills must be passed this session.

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) who started the House session, and Deputy Speaker Charlene Lima (Democrat, District 14, Cranston), who ended the session, never acknowledged the students.

Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, Providence) acknowledged the students from the House floor, saying, “It’s inspiring to me. I know it’s inspiring to a lot of us. I think [the students] deserve incredible credit for standing up for themselves and for younger people across our state.”

Here are some photos:

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Nicholas Mattiello

Representative Evan Shanley (Democrat, District 24, Warwick) visited the students in the gallery

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.