More than 200 students at John Burroughs High School left their fourth period class early and joined the Walkout Against Gun Violence today, Friday, April 19, to ask for gun legislation reform. U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff and California State Assemblymember Laura Friedman spoke at the lunchtime rally held by the Burroughs High Students Against Gun Violence Club.
Several dozen members of the Burbank community also joined the students at the rally on Memorial Field.
“It was an honor to be with the students participating in the Walkout Against Gun Violence,” commented Schiff. “Across America, students and families have responded to the tragedy of gun violence with strength, resolve and a clear message to Congress – enough is enough.”
“They made it clear they want meaningful action from elected officials—across the country, at every level – in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and our entire society,” he said.
Students left class about nine minutes early in protest, according to JBHS Assistant Principal of Athletics and Activities, Robyn Anders. There were no repercussions handed out for leaving class early to join the Walkout Against Gun Violence.
April 20 is the 20th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, in which 13 people were killed and more than 20 others were wounded. Students at schools around the U.S. are holding walkouts and rallies on April 19 and 20 to call attention to the impact of gun violence and their desire for gun legislation reform.
The Burroughs Students Against Gun Violence Club has about 101 members, according to President Zachary Hagen-Smith, a senior, who welcomed students to today’s rally.
“This is about freedom. Freedom to go to school in safety,” commented Hagen-Smith. “For officers of the law to do their jobs in safety.”
“For all Americans to live their lives without the lingering threat of shootings,” he added. “Until we have legal preventatives against gun violence on a national level, we cannot be truly free.”
Senior Cheyenne Arroyo sang the National Anthem and Mahmoud El-Farra, Co-Political Director, March for Our Lives California, then talked to the assembled students and adults.
Members of the Students Against Gun Violence Club, juniors Arya Desai, Babbette Wagner and Ariana Kretz, then spoke.
Assemblymember Laura Friedman talked to the students and community members, followed by senior SAGV member Louis Zekowski, who also spoke on behalf of SAGA, the Straight And Gay Alliance Club.
Sophomore SAGV member Reese Coblentz and senior Kalea Neiviller, who’s also Vice President of the Club, then said a few words.
Congressman Adam Schiff concluded the rally with his remarks.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis across our country and it’s preventable,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale, CA District 43). “Safe storage, universal background checks and other common sense measures can save lives and it’s time for our national leaders to stand up to the NRA and take action.”
“I’m grateful for the energy and commitment our youth have shown towards ending gun violence,” Friedman also said. “We need to learn from them and renew our commitment to ending the steady stream of senseless tragedies that have plagued our nation for far too long.”
Burbank Unified Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill, Board of Education Clerk Steve Frintner and Burroughs Principal Deborah Madrigal were also in attendance.
“I was really impressed to see so many young people come out to demonstrate today,” Schiff said, noting he was pleased to see great leadership by the students in organizing and holding the event.
“Young people like the students at Burroughs are changing the conversation about gun violence,” added Schiff. “They have launched a movement to change minds, to change laws and to force adults to reckon with the effect that weak gun laws have had on our country. And I know they are just getting started.”