Black Parkland Shooting Survivors Feel Left Out of the National Gun Debate

After 17 people were killed in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, students have taken the national gun debate by storm. The primary demand from these young activists is for more legislation on firearm access. But some students feel left out of the movement. Black students who survived the shooting convened Wednesday to make themselves heard and to say that post-Parkland gun debate is ignoring the voices and fears of black Americans.

The conference focused on the students’ belief that people of color are being left out of the national gun control conversation. Stoneman Douglas student Tyah-Amon Roberts said, "The Black Lives Matter movement has been addressing the topic since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and we have never seen this kind of support for our cause. We surely do not feel that the lives or voices of minorities are valued as much as those of our white counterparts." She added, "I am here today with my classmates because we have been thoroughly under-represented and in some cases, misrepresented."

The group noted that black children are the most likely out of all race groups in the United States to become victims of gun violence.

Roberts was joined by her friends as well as Broward County school board member Rosalind Osgood. Another Stoneman Douglas survivor, Kai Koerber, told CBS 12 that many were overlooking the dangers school security officers pose to students of color. "It is estimated that one in three police officers suffer from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder," Koerber said. "When mentally ill police officers are tasked to safeguard a traumatized student body, that becomes a recipe for disaster. Police need to stand on the perimeters of our school. Those chosen to work at school should receive PTSD counseling and special diversity training."

The high school students who gathered Wednesday said while they support their peers, they wish the gun control debate would take racial inequality into consideration. One student, Mei-Ling Ho-Shing, said, “We are proud to say we are from Douglas, we are proud to say that those who are at the front are doing a great job, but we have so much to say too.”

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