Students raise their voices against gun violence
Hawaiʻi’s children participate in National Walkout Day
Photos and text by Chanel Dias
Sacred Hearts Academy senior Taylor McKenzie participated in the University of Hawaiʻi walkout Wednesday morning, as part of the National School Walkout movement to protest gun violence.
McKenzie is one of a few dozen students who showed up at Bachman Lawn to participate in the 17-minute walk out starting at 10 a.m., each minute dedicated to the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman High School shooting in Parkland, Florida exactly one month ago.
“We have been apathetic for so long because we don’t really have gun violence here [in Hawaii]… But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do nothing. We have to stand up and make a difference.” McKenzie said.
Across the street from where she stood, more than a hundred students from the University Laboratory School also participated in the walkout.
Cars passing on University Avenue and Dole Street honked in response, supporting the movement.
Community members participated in the walkout as well. Erynn Fernandez, chairwoman of Hawaiʻi Young Progressives Demanding Action, says this movement is personal to her as she is a mother of two young children, ages four and nine.
“7,000 keiki have been killed since the preschool shooting in 2012, and in five years and some change, we’ve lost that many children. So something needs to be done,” Fernandez said.
Another Sacred Hearts student, Monica Kenny, used Emma Gonzalez, a Parkland survior’s speech as motivation in her speech against gun violence.
Kenny hopes to be a political activist after high school. She does not share President Donald Trump’s idea in arming teachers with guns, and says it’s ridiculous teachers are expected to sacrifice themselves while protecting students with firearms.
“It’s just not feasible,” she said. “They’re endangered and scared too. They’re not gonna have steady hands. This isn’t like Navy Seals Team Six, you know.”
Despite knowing how stressful politics can be, Kenny does not regret fighting for what she believes in. She is tired of watching innocent children die at the hands of guns, and children should not have to live in fear of becoming victims in school.
Monica Kenny, a Sacred Hearts student, sharing her thoughts on gun control after the walkout.
“I love being a child… But five year olds shouldn’t have to be saying ‘choose me over a gun.’ They shouldn’t have to be out here protesting for something like this,” she said.
Other high schools across the state also participated in the walkout.