UO students stage walkout to show solidarity in the face of gun violence
On April 20, students and faculty gathered in the EMU amphitheater to participate in a nation-wide walkout commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre. The “Walkout to End Gun Violence and White Supremacist Violence” was hosted by a number of student run groups, including the Young Democratic Socialists of America, the Muslim Student Association, the LGBTQ3, and the UO Student Collective.
T.J. Sokol, a graduate student in the College of Education, believes one of the most important aspects of these types of demonstrations is community building and showing strength in numbers.
“We’re here to give strength to the community to fight these kinds of violences. To call a spade a spade, to network and get to know each other. To hear each other’s stories and help each other, and to show our power in the face of gun violence and white supremacist violence,” Sokol said.
Xander Berenstein, a senior double-majoring in math and biology, spoke at the walkout representing the Young Democratic Socialists of America, as well as the Jews Against White Supremacy.
“I am walking out against all gun violence. School shootings, domestic murders, police executions of black and brown people, airstrikes in Syria and sniper file on Palestinians protesters in Gaza,” Berenstein.
One year ago today, Jimmy Marr, also known as “Genocide Jimmy,” a local neo-nazi known for his public displays of bigotry, drove a truck through campus while waving anti-semitic flags.
Berenstein expressed disillusionment surrounding the UO’s response regarding last year’s demonstration.
“This resulted in a tangible disruption on campus. I mean, you can just imagine how safe I, and the other Jews on campus, felt,” Berenstein said.
Although offensive, Marr’s actions didn’t violate the First Amendment nor UO policy, so the University hasn’t banned Marr from returning.
Later, UO student Arkan Vetra spoke about their concerns surrounding the national gun-control debate, recently reignited by the 2018 Parkland school shooting.
“They want white people to have guns. But the second Black people attempt to arm themselves, the NRA is noticeably silent,” Vetra said. “Our gun problems need to be addressed by addressing the types of violence that are present in our society. That’s racial violence, disability violence, white supremacy violence and the list honestly goes on. We need to talk about how these types of violences can be undone.”
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