From Pride staff reports
Aryianah King walked out for her father — for the fatal gunshot wounds to the head and chest he suffered inside a convenience store October 23, 2017.
“Seeing him lying down in a box … was traumatic for me,” she said. “So for me to speak out on (gun violence) gives me inner-peace and gives me a voice.”
Christina and Tawana Richardson left their classrooms for Desconte Bryant — a friend and classmate who would be graduating this year if a gunman hadn’t riddled his body with bullets last May.
Each of the several hundred Goldsboro High School students who made their way to the football field Wednesday morning had a reason for doing so. Some were just more comfortable talking about theirs than others.
We don’t look like the Stoneman Douglas High School students who lost their friends, teachers, and coaches when Nikolas Cruz did what he did on Valentine’s Day. We don’t come from the same kinds of neighborhoods. We didn’t know Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jamie Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrap, or Peter Wang.
But we lowered our heads and said a prayer for them this morning.
And back in our classrooms, we talked about our own experiences with guns and mental illness — and how easy it was for the shooter to get his hands on an assault rifle.
Prophet DeVaughn’s big takeaway was what he sees as a lack of gun control in the United States.
“The government needs to tighten up on how easy it is to buy a weapon,” he said. “For example in some states in the country you can go buy a handgun at the age of sixteen. No one at that age should own a gun.”
And Awyna Greenfield said the shooting made her think about bullying and how out of control people act on social media.
So no, we don’t look like those kids in Florida. We don’t go to a school that’s considered one of the best in the country. But Shy Franklin noted that gun violence isn’t about race or wealth.
“I don’t feel like this world is safe for anyone of any race because of gun violence and I don’t think that Goldsboro is a safe place either,” she said. “There’s two people that I know and that I was close with that have been gunned down and it hurts to know that people out here are hurting and they have to go around hurting innocent people.”
So Shy and her classmates braved the cold for those seventeen minutes and watched the Student Government Association release a red balloon each minute — one for every victim of this latest horror.
Prophet’s hope is that “those seventeen minutes could and will have a huge impact on not just the lives of the families that lost these people, but hopefully on the entire nation.”
“Each heart-shaped balloon represented each soul that was released on that tragic day. As the balloons floated away, I just couldn’t help but see it as the souls of those victims moving on and finding peace beyond this world.”
Now, it’s up to us to ensure peace in this one.
“It’s as if those gunshots still keep ringing in my ear and it’s a sound that makes me more scared than ever,” Tatiana Eason said. “More than 100 people a day are killed by a gun in the hands of somebody who has a cold mission.”
“Looking in on the situation this wasn’t just another ‘white kid problem.’ This was another school and another victim after victim after victim after victim. How many more victims before it actually stops? Not for one year. Not for five years. Not for twenty. Forever,” she said. “The bullying, the teasing, everything needs to stop. But the most important thing that needs to stop is asking ‘why’ when everyone knows what happened and why it happened. I will never try to justify this traumatic situation, but I will say that it is a two-way street. This isn’t the first school shooting that has moved us, but my question is why is this the first to be politically touched on?
“As you look into the whole situation you can see that they are referring back to Sandy Hook and all other school shootings but what I don’t get is, what was done to stop it? No. What was done to prevent it? Something that should of never happened did and now look. The (lawmakers) say it was a tragedy. They say it was never supposed to happen. They say that they are sorry. But what did you do to help? A sorry isn’t going to bring a life back.”