On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 People Tragically Lost Their Lives in a Brutal Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. I Was in School When It Happened and Saw Tweets from Students in the School. It Was Terrifying. in the Days Following, I Was Inspired by the Students Who Turned Their Trauma into Action [Derived Headline]

By Arrington, Nia | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 14, 2019 | Go to article overview

On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 People Tragically Lost Their Lives in a Brutal Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. I Was in School When It Happened and Saw Tweets from Students in the School. It Was Terrifying. in the Days Following, I Was Inspired by the Students Who Turned Their Trauma into Action [Derived Headline]


Arrington, Nia, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people tragically lost their lives in a brutal massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. I was in school when it happened and saw tweets from students in the school. It was terrifying. In the days following, I was inspired by the students who turned their trauma into action.

In the wake of Betsy DeVos' nomination as Secretary of Education, I founded the Youth Power Collective, a black-led group of young people in Pittsburgh that is now a campaign of OnePA. Those of us involved in the organization felt compelled to do something in our community to show solidarity with the Parkland students.

One week after the massacre, about 150 of my peers and I walked out of school, marched through downtown Pittsburgh and rallied in Market Square. Students shared their personal experiences with gun violence and what they believed we should do to make it stop.

A month later, we organized four buses to attend the national March for Our Lives. More than 60 students who joined us had been directly impacted by gun violence. It was beautiful to come together with students from across the country. We uplifted our voices and showed that we all want to be part of the change.

The response by young people in the aftermath of the tragedy sits in stark contrast to that of our government. While young people came together, the federal government has attempted to tear us apart. After the tragedy, President Donald Trump appointed DeVos to chair the new Federal Commision on School Safety and make recommendations. However, their process left young people out of the conversation despite us making it very clear that we wanted to be included.

In December 2018, we saw that the commission did not listen to us -- at all. Instead of using the commission to truly transform the culture of our nation's schools, DeVos and Trump initiated a direct attack on black, brown and LGBTQIA+ students, and students with disabilities. The commission ultimately provided a blueprint for arming school personnel, adding more cops and military personnel to schools, and rescinded Obama-era civil rights guidance on school discipline, which protected students like me.

When the commission used the massacre of children in Florida to rescind civil rights guidance, I knew it was no longer about school safety. The presence of police officers, guns, handcuffs and metal detectors in schools creates hostile teaching and learning environments that are reinforced by harsh, punitive and exclusionary school discipline policies. Together these practices constitute what is widely referred to as the school-to-prison pipeline. …

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On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 People Tragically Lost Their Lives in a Brutal Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. I Was in School When It Happened and Saw Tweets from Students in the School. It Was Terrifying. in the Days Following, I Was Inspired by the Students Who Turned Their Trauma into Action [Derived Headline]
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