A total of 732 little flags flap in the wind from the lawn in front of the Knight Library Monday morning — 288 red and 444 yellow.
The red flags represent gun-related deaths in U.S. schools since the Thurston High School shooting in Springfield, Oregon in May of 1998. The yellow flags stand for injuries.
The UO College Democrats are responsible for the display, as well as a student walkout planned for Wednesday at 10 a.m. The walkout is a national tribute to the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting and will feature a 17-minute period of silence, one minute for each of the victims.
UO College Democrats Communications Director, Joey Alongi, said the image of the flags in the lawn is important for people to see to conceptualize the sheer number of lives affected by gun violence.
The club’s Program Director, Kevin Lance, echoed that it can be hard to understand the scope of this issue.
“When it’s numbers on a screen it’s hard to put that into perspective. It helps to see the numbers,” said Lance.
“The reason [the Thurston High School shooting] was chosen as the cutoff was because for many of the students at the University of Oregon this was the first instance of gun violence in school that had an effect on our lives as students,” according to a post on the UO College Democrats Facebook page.
Alongi said there’s been such a rise in gun violence ever since that shooting that it seemed like Thurston was the best event to begin counting the number of gun deaths and injuries thereafter. It brought so much national attention to gun violence in schools in addition to its proximity, he said, and that the flags are an important part of visualizing that rise in just 20 years.
Alongi recalled the strategy of placing flags in the grass as used by other organizations on campus, particularly symbolizing the scope of sexual assault.
The flags will remain in the grass for the rest of the week. The student walkout Facebook event has 900 interested responses and 344 said they are going.