Redmond Proficiency Academy students stage walkout to oppose gun violence, back legislation
Students stand in solidarity to promote change
(Update: Adding video, comments from walkout organizers and participants)
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- “I have a right to an education. I have a right to be safe in a place of learning. I have a right to go school and not be scared of my life being taken from me," Juniper Rook proclaimed Wednesday morning as a crowd of people joined her in protest of gun violence.
Students from Redmond Proficiency Academy and supporters, about 50 in total, gathered and walked to Centennial Park at 11 a.m. in an organized walkout, with the added goal of backing legislation to combat the problem.
The organizers of the event, Juniper Rook and Isabelle Richards, are sophomores at the school and have been involved in various social justice matters.
“Our biggest concern would definitely be guns in the wrong hands," Richards said. "We’re less concerned about people who are, like, wanting to use hunting as a sport and that kind of stuff. And we’re more concerned about the lack of control and the lack of legislation we have around guns. We want to make sure we’re having harsher punishments for people who are, you know, buying and selling guns illegally.”
Stephen Schaffer, a host at of KPOV Community Radio, showed up in support of the students' cause.
“We need more control!" he said.
Schaffer shared the following with NewsChannel 21:
"We are proud of (the students') commitment to bravely & confidently stand for stronger adherence to gun laws that provide for their right to an education in safe schools for all Oregon students. As concerned citizens and volunteers at Redmond's winter shelter & at KPOV 88.9 FM Community Radio for all of Central Oregon, we support and join students in their demand for safe schools.
After a false alarm last month about a person with a gun at Ridgeview High School in Redmond, the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan and the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, the students want to promote greater awareness about the issue.
Olivia O’Rourke is a sophomore participant who is passionate about the cause.
“Not enough people talk about how many people it actually affects," she said. "And it’s all over the country, and not enough people seem to care enough to actually do something about it and promote change in these communities."
Redmond City Councilor Clifford Evelyn also joined in support of the cause.
“It’s important that we understand that guns do cause problems in our community -- okay, and our society," he said.
The students gathered signatures asking Oregon's congressional representatives to support the following bills: HR4271, the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act, and HR1642, the Prosecuting Gun Crimes Act, to curb gun violence.
They asked walkout attendees to sign letters in support of both bills, to be sent to Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Cliff Bentz and Kurt Schrader.
The students argued that the bills do not seek to take guns from law-abiding Americans, only to prosecute those who are selling, owning and buying guns illegally.
Rook said an email was sent out to the campus student body that the walkout was an act of civil disobedience. She also shared the walkout wouldn't be necessary if the people in power and in the community were supporting and protecting students.
"I'd rather perform an act of civil disobedience to fight for the safety that I deserve and need than stay quiet," she declared through her megaphone.
Noa Binder, another participant in the walkout, stood in agreement.
"If you don't change it, who else is?" she said.