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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Marches start conversations

Sean Princivalle ’19 attends the March for Our Lives in Philadelphia on March 24 (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Students take to the streets to protest gun violence

Thousands gathered in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, including students, teachers, parents and children, to protest gun violence and speak out for gun control on March 24.

The March for Our Lives, which hosted its main rally in Washington D.C., was organized by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17.

Grace Schillinger ’20, an elementary education and special education double major, went to the march in Philadelphia for her future students.

March for Our Lives on 2nd St in Old City, Philadelphia (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

“I personally felt that guns should not be allowed in schools at all,” Schillinger said. “I am always thinking about my own future classroom and I do not want guns in my future classroom. I already care a lot about the safety of my students even though I haven’t met them yet so I felt like something needed to be done and this was what I could do.”

The march in Philadelphia was one of over 800 sister marches worldwide. While it didn’t draw the same massive crowds or the notable speakers as the D.C. event, Schillinger still found the march to be powerful.

“I was not expecting it to be as big as it was in Philadelphia but I thought it was amazing, the amount of people that came forth just to show their support,” Schillinger said.

Sean Princivalle ’19 went to the march in Philadelphia because, as a student, he wanted to support his fellow students in their activism.

“I wanted to be there with them, for them,” Princivalle said. “These kids are all around our ages and it’s powerful to see people making a difference.”

Princivalle believes Americans have become numb to gun deaths and he hopes the marches will finally change that.

Katie Chapman ’16 prepares speakers for the march (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

“It’s getting to the point where you hear about a shooting and it’s something you’re used to, like ‘Oh it’s just another week in America’ and it’s a horrible thing that you shouldn’t be used to and that there’s been nothing to help prevent this is just absurd to me,” Princivalle said.

In Philadelphia, teachers and parents and adults marched to support activism of the youth.

Katie Chapman ’16 oversaw the programming committee and assisted students in the creation of the march and rally in Philadelphia. She was inspired by her two nieces, noting that one is the age of the Sandy Hook
children when they died, and the other was born two days before the Parkland shooting.

Chapman, advocating for a safer future for her nieces, wants this protest to spur continued action.

“I don’t want it to end today,” Chapman said. “We have voter registration and we’re reminding people to please register to vote and if you are [registered], then go out and vote.”

Other St. Joe’s students felt motivated to go to D.C. to march.

“We thought that we wanted to have a showing in Washington D.C. since that is kind of the heart of where our legislation goes,” Paul Ammons ’20 said. “So we wanted to physically be down there instead of attending the march in Philly.”

Ammons attended the event because he wanted to be able to represent the Philadelphia community affected by gun violence in the nation’s capital.

“People can be present in Philadelphia,” Ammons said. “But we don’t have enough voices in our capital for these groups and so as a member of the community I want to be there.”

Ammons was most moved by the speech from Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King.

“To see all the pieces come together into this one event and have this one person who is in the same family that still is a major part of the advancement of civil rights in this nation, it was hopeful,” Ammons said. “It gave me hope. And it gave the other people in the crowd hope. To see that hope renewed within the other people in the march was inspiring.”

Ammons mentioned the lack of conversation about the communities that have been continuously affected by gun violence, even before the activism against school shootings. He wants to bring attention to the issues of gun violence in cities, such as Philadelphia, that have been underrepresented but are still struggling with gun violence every day.

“We need to start expanding what gun violence is in our definitions and not be caught up in this partisan politics and debates on which side is right, when gun violence affects all of us the same,” Ammons said.

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