Utah students rally to remember Columbine

Apr 20, 2018, 10:26 PM | Updated: 11:47 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Hundreds of Utah students joined others across the country Friday to participate in “National Walkout Day” to mark the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

Capitol rally (Photo: Keith McCord)

Utah students began exiting their classrooms Friday morning to mark the anniversary and also to continue the push for safer schools and stronger laws on gun control.

Organizers said as many as 15 schools along the Wasatch Front took part.

At 10 a.m., students at Skyline High walked out of their classes and gathered on the football field.

Sugar House Park with Highland High School students. (Photo: Keith McCord)

At Highland High, it was a similar scene, as students headed for a pavilion area at nearby Sugar House Park.

“For me, I just want a change,” Highland High Senior Jonathan Bulalaque said. “It doesn’t have the be a huge ban to get rid of all the guns. I don’t think that would be possible because there are so many people who are pro guns. But I think there should be some restrictions and some limits.”

Students created posters and wrote letters to local lawmakers before heading to a much larger rally on the steps of Utah’s Capitol.

Rally organizer, Riley Arnold carried a sign with the names of the victims of the Columbine and Parkland, Florida shootings.

Capitol rally (Photo: Keith McCord)

“We are here today to take action,” she told the crowd of about 500 who had gathered. “We will no longer be silenced. We will fight for our lives until the noise of our message can no longer be ignored.”

The various speakers told the crowd that the lives of 26,000 students have been lost due to gun violence and urged lawmakers, some who attended the rally, to take stronger action in the future.

“This is that point. This is the point where you say, yes, universal background checks.” said Cole Griffiths, a Skyline High senior. “This the point where you say yes to a bump stocks ban, this is where you say yes to an assault weapons ban.”

Capitol rally (Photo: Keith McCord)

Following the speeches, there was a so-called “Die In,” where everyone at the rally went to the ground and raised their hands in silence, for six minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took for the 17 students at Parkland High in Florida to lose their lives in February.

There have been many rallies held across the nation since the Florida shooting, and Utah students say they’ll continue to make their voices heard.

“If we don’t say anything then who will? That’s how I see it,” Bulalaque said. “In a way, it’s kind of scary that just to go to school and not be protected. In this area, there’s no specific threat, but it can happen at any time to anyone.”

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