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Young gun violence prevention advocates stage Valentines Not Violence: A Rally for Our Loved Ones

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The media loves a story. CNN can run segments for a week or two on a mass shooting, and then move on and in doing so, move the rest of the country on, leaving behind the families and communities damaged by the violence,” said Ben Jewett, Freshman at Classical High School in Providence and an organizer with the Providence Student Union.


Youth organizers from Thoughts Prayers Action, Providence Student Union, One Gun Gone, and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV) were at the Rhode Island State House Thursday for a rally for gun violence prevention marking the two year anniversary of the shooting that killed 17 innocent students and staff and injured 17 students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentines Day.

Their message? Preventing gun violence and protecting our communities should be a priority of our elected leaders.

Jaychele Schenck

The rally began with a poem from Jaychele Schenck, a youth organizer and leader with Young Voices.

empathy and emotion
things i’ve grown to have
love and devotion
i forgot how to laugh
shots ringing in my ears
i can’t tell if it’s close to here
hiding behind my peers
waiting for the coast to clear
we’re all living in fear
what school is next
no child left behind
that’s how it’s designed
won’t stop till the bill is signed
where is the blame assigned
we’re fighting for what’s right
because our futures are bright
like the the fire that glows when a bullet escapes
stop before it’s way too late
protect our futures
not our shooters
protect our youth
don’t put us on mute
awaiting change, and building range
we are now past the stage, of forgiveness
thoughts and prayers are not enough
this new generation’s tough
we will be the ones to bring politicians in cuffs
they need to start to wear gloves
the blood on their hands begins to stain
as long as they laws are sustained
this gun violence must be contained
make decisions with thoughts of our pain

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner spoke in support of gun violence prevention.


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“I don’t want to read another legislator’s tweet out of cheap thoughts and prayers in response to another shooting,” said Reverend Liz Lerner Maclay from the First Unitarian Church in Providence. “Especially I don’t want to read these cheap thoughts and prayers from all those legislators who can’t be troubled to show up at the memorial services, the rallies, the vigils where we stand with those who have been injured and mourn those we have lost, good people brutally cut down.  We see who comes to be with the people, and we thank those leaders and legislators who show up, who show with their presence and the gun control they are working for, that they understand, they care.”

“We accept limits on speech and freedom if it infringes upon the rights of others,” said Reverend Jamie Washam from the First Baptist Church of America in Providence. “The right to bear arms does not eclipse all other rights. We have the right to gun-free places of worship, education and recreation. Health and public safety do not come by further weaponization.”

After the gun violence death of her daughter Essence, “For almost a year, I held a lot of hurt and anger, and was unsure of what direction my life would be led in,” said Diana Garlington. “One morning I received a call that would change my heart and mind which is what has lead me to where I am. at that very moment, I chose love because it’s the only way we will be able to overcome the senseless acts of violence we have experienced in our lives. In the words of Dr Martin Luther King, ‘we must choose love so that it does not create bitterness in the survivor and brutality in the destroyer!'”

“The media loves a story. CNN can run segments for a week or two on a mass shooting, and then move on and in doing so, move the rest of the country on, leaving behind the families and communities damaged by the violence,” said Ben Jewett, Freshman at Classical High School in Providence and an organizer with the Providence Student Union. “Communities built on foundations soaked in blood have trouble building, showing slower growth in new retail and service businesses, as well as slower home value appreciation. When the epicenter of violence is in your family, the foundation rots and crumbles, with families of victims and survivors of gun violence often experiencing financial crisis, including an inability to pay rent, utility bills, and phone service because of lost earnings and high medical bills.”

The rally ended with music from Alef Beats, a Jewish-themed a capella group and Harmonizing Grace, an a capella group, both from Brown University.


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