Hundreds of MN K-12 students walk out of school to protest gun violence

Two students hold protest signs
Students protested in Minneapolis against gun violence on May 31, 2022.
Elizabeth Shockman | MPR News

When 16-year-old Aaliyah Murray, a student at Fridley High School, learned about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, she knew she needed to do something.

“When we saw that news, we were disgusted and we knew it was heartbreakingly unjust,” Murray said. “We were like, we need to make a response. Kids are afraid, kids are getting murdered. A lot of students were angry, a lot of students were sad.”

She started reaching out to her peers around the Twin Cities to organize a protest and research a list of demands. By Tuesday they were ready.

They gathered outside the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, hundreds of K-12 students with them, holding signs and chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

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Students raise their hands
Students drew targets on their hands, representing the gun violence affecting students and others across the country, at the May 31, 2022 walkout in Minneapolis.
Elizabeth Shockman | MPR News

“We’re here today because time and time again we’ve seen our lives have not mattered within our democracy, within our legislative floors, within our communities and within our schools,” said Highland Park High School senior, Jerome Treadwell. “It is a shame that time and time again we can go to school or our grocery stores with the fear of, ‘are we going to live?’”

Treadwell, Murray and other students took turns reading a list of demands. Drawing in part on recommendations for school safety from Minnesota researchers, they asked for a change in state law to have fewer active shooter drills in schools.

They also want government leaders to create a statewide advisory committee on student safety that includes student and teacher members and for school leaders to start annual mental health assessments for students. Demands also included a ban on AR-15 rifles as well as ramped up purchase, permit and registration requirements.

“The youth have to have a seat at the table,” Treadwell said, “Because we don’t have a seat at the table, we will walk out, we will protest, we will march, we will demand, we will have press conferences and we will do everything in our power to be sure that our voices matter.”