Black students, comprising 11 percent of teens attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, are tired of being ignored by media coverage and community members that have all but given them the mic to speak after the Parkland shooting tragedy, they said on Thursday.
Several students expressed concerns over teens being confronted by swarms of armed police officers after they returned to school following the February 14 tragedy. The increasing police presence decreases their safety and equals more brutality, they said. In front of their peers, students, who said they had been overlooked and underrepresented, raised their voices just days after the March For Our Lives rallied folks for gun control nationwide. Their fight, they added, was also for an end to police violence.
“It’s bad enough we have to return with clear backpacks,” Kai Koerber, a 17-year-old Marjory student, said about actions taken at the school that is among the largest in Florida’s Broward County. “Should we also return with our hands up?”
Koerber, like other students of color, believe that more armed police will only lead to more violence, he said in the statement reported by the Miami Herald.
Students like Koerber know that their voices matter too at Marjory, and they should be considered in decisions that affect the school, which is majority-White. Teens of color comprise 39 percent of the school’s 2,972 students, with only 11 percent of African-Americans enrolled there, according to the U.S News & World Report’s Best High Schools rankings.
Rev. Rosalind Osgood, a Broward County school board member, believes voices of color should be raised. She doesn’t think “anybody’s intentionally excluding” Black students “but nobody’s intentionally including them either,” she said to the Herald.
As Marjory officials may be figuring out how to include and consider students of color in efforts to prevent future shootings, students are not waiting for their invitation to share their views. Discussions about police brutality in schools like Marjory have been raised alongside conversations about nationwide gun violence.
A student, identified as Tyah-Amoy, asked community members and the nation whether folks will show up to march and fight for justice for slain African-American men and women who were killed by police. The names mentioned on Thursday included Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling and Sandra Bland.
It’s clear that as much as Black students are asking the nation if they “see” them, they are asking the nation if and when everyone will stand against gun and police violence.
“Is the solution to less gun violence more guns, just with police officers’ names on them?” Tifanny Burks, an activist with Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward told the Miami Herald. “We have to have that conversation.”