Black stu­dents want their voices heard, too

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JAVON AN­THONY LLOYD

PARK­LAND, Fla. – With many across the na­tion still grap­pling with the af­ter­math of the deadly Feb. 14 mass shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla., some black stu­dents are speak­ing out to make sure their voices don’t get lost in today’s on­go­ing de­bate sur­round­ing gun vi­o­lence and equal­ity.

Last week, black stu­dents from Stone­man Dou­glas held a press con­fer­ence at North Com­mu­nity Park, less than a mile south of where 17 peo­ple were trag­i­cally killed and sev­eral oth­ers were se­verely wounded.

The event, which was sup­ported by the group Black Lives Mat­ter Al­liance of Broward, gave stu­dents the chance to speak openly with lo­cal res­i­dents and mem­bers of the me­dia to ex­press their con­cerns about be­ing un­der­rep­re­sented and over­looked in past and present gun vi­o­lence move­ments – some­thing that many have said hap­pens far too of­ten within com­mu­ni­ties of color.

“We’re proud to say that we’re from Dou­glas. We’re proud to say those on the front line of this move­ment are do­ing a great job. But for the com­mu­ni­ties that deal with this type of vi­o­lence on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, where are their voices?” asked Stone­man Dou­glas stu­dent Mei-Ling Ho-Shing. “I was on the sec­ond floor of the fresh­man build­ing when the shoot­ing in­ci­dent oc­curred, and some­thing as sim­ple as a lock saved my life. At other schools, they are bro­ken, their gates are busted in, and you can jump in and out of their fa­cil­ity as you please. That’s a prob­lem.”

Con­cerns ex­pressed by the black stu­dents came just days af­ter more than 200,000 stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers, com­mu­nity ac­tivists, celebri­ties and oth­ers gath­ered in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., for the March for Our Lives de­mon­stra­tion to protest gun vi­o­lence, en­cour­age school safety, pro­mote uni­ver­sal back­ground checks and more.

Here lo­cally, black stu­dents who spoke at the press con­fer­ence also high­lighted the fact that the move­ment needed to fo­cus on ad­di­tional is­sues that have plagued the na­tion for some time, in­clud­ing the need for men­tal health screen­ings, equal re­sources and proper train­ing for the law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

“It’s es­ti­mated that one in three po­lice of­fi­cers suf­fer from un­treated post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der,” said 17-yearold Kai Ko­er­ber, a stu­dent at Stone­man Dou­glas. “When men­tally ill po­lice of­fi­cers are in­vited to safe­guard a trau­ma­tized stu­dent body, it be­comes a recipe for dis­as­ter. Those cho­sen to work at schools should re­ceive PTSD coun­sel­ing and spe­cial di­ver­sity train­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Gun Vi­o­lence Archive (GVA) – a non­profit formed in 2013 that pro­vides free on­line public ac­cess to ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about gun-re­lated vi­o­lence in the United States – there have been more than 20 mass shoot­ings since the event in Park­land, in­clud­ing in cities like Detroit, South Bend, Ind., Cam­den, N.J., and Mem­phis, Tenn.

From Jan. 1 to April 2, 2018, there were nearly 14,000 gun-re­lated in­ci­dents across the coun­try, re­sult­ing in more than 3,570 deaths and ap­prox­i­mately 6,252 in­jured. Ad­di­tional data from GVA also shows that there were 644 vic­tims be­tween the ages of 12 to 17 who were ei­ther killed or in­jured from use of a firearm.

"We’re all tired of our chil­dren be­ing shot, and we’re tired of los­ing loved ones. We have to do some­thing about reg­u­lat­ing guns and tak­ing as­sault weapons off of the streets," said Dr. Ros­alind Os­good Ph.D,, a mem­ber of the Broward County School Board.” Our chil­dren are our fu­ture, and it’s time for us to come to­gether as a com­mu­nity around this cause to save our lives.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF JAVON LLOYD

Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School stu­dent Kai Ko­er­ber de­liv­ers re­marks at a re­cent press con­fer­ence at North Com­mu­nity Park in Broward County, Fla. Also fea­tured left is Broward School Board Mem­ber is Ros­alind Osgood Ph.D., and stu­dents from the...

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