From the July-August 2022 issue of News & Letters
by Buddy Bell
In the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Tex., young people around the nation were pleading for systemic change in more than 450 cities around the globe. High school senior Jerome Treadwell, co-organizer of a march in Minneapolis: “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. The youth have to 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.”
Zee Lauer, one of a group of 8th-graders who marched in Iowa City: “Since the fifth grade I have had countless plans of what I would ever do if I was in a school shooting. I should not be predicting my death… [Speaking of a 2017 Las Vegas shooting] Why the fuck would anybody need 47 guns? You do not need 47 guns for protection… for hunting. You do not need 47 guns, period.” From La Crescenta, Calif., to Essex Junction, Vt., students at over 200 schools walked out of class. At Oxford High School in Michigan, where four students were gunned down in November, about 100 students went in a procession to the football field and used their bodies to form a large letter “U” for Uvalde. In Salt Lake City, freshman Lucy Law: “Walkouts are such an impactful thing. It is the future gathering together in their community.”
* * *
About 30 activists of Fridays 4 Future lay on the ground amidst New York City’s financial district on June 10. Speaking to the Village Sun, youth organizer Emma Buretta said: “I hope the result of this die-in is that banks start to realize how their funding of the climate crisis is affecting youth, in particular. And that we’re going to take our money out of banks if they don’t stop funding the climate crisis, and they will not have business from our generation—and I hope that they feel threatened by that.”
* * *
Ayelet, an Israeli Trans teen who attended Tel Aviv pride, was approached by police five minutes after holding up their homemade sign that featured a Palestinian flag along with the sentence: “No Pride in Occupation.” While police detained them, the 16-year-old was able to insist that no law yet existed to outlaw the display of such a sign. They were released after an hour and posted an essay online about their experience.