Denver school students rally for gun safety at state capitol after shootings

<span>Photograph: David Zalubowski/AP</span>
Photograph: David Zalubowski/AP

More than a thousand Denver high school students protested over gun violence in their schools, rallying on Thursday and Friday at Colorado’s capitol after yet another such incident had occurred.

Students from at least five Denver high schools gathered late on Thursday to demonstrate after a fatal shooting at an area high school earlier this week, following another one last month.

On Friday, on what was supposed to be a mental health day for Denver public school students, many once again marched to the state capitol to voice demand progress around gun safety.

“We want action, not words,” said Ali Sittiseri, a member of Students Demand Action, to Denver 7.

“You can keep promising that you’re going to make change, but we’re not going to believe it until we see it.”

Related: Body found in woods was student accused in Denver school shooting, coroner says

Students who had gathered at the Capitol steps on Thursday, chanted: “Protect schools, not guns,” the Denver Post reported.

“At what point are we just going to allow kids to go to school just to feel safe and learn?” said Nico Gomez-Lucero, a senior a West high school, to the Post.

“When can we just be kids again?”

Students also gathered near the capitol’s house chambers, where they confronted lawmakers about their plans to address gun violence.

“We’re scared to go to school,” Anna Hay, a sophomore at East high school told the Associated Press during Thursday’s rally.

“We want to have these legislators look us in our eyes when they tell us they won’t pass gun [safety] legislation,” she added.

About a dozen students surrounded the Republican state senator Perry Will, who has rejected several gun control laws. Students described their anxiety and fears about being safe in school due to shootings.

“I don’t think you understand how scary it is to hear the lockdown go out and I don’t know if my friends are going to be safe, I don’t know if I should send a goodbye text to my family because I might die,” said one student.

Of his decision to reject such laws, Will said to the Post: “I understand the frustration … If I really thought these gun bills would help and cure the situation, I’d be standing right there [with the students]. The reality is, it won’t make a difference.”

On Thursday, a 17-year-old student shot and wounded two school faculty members at Denver East high school during a routine weapons pat-down.

The student was previously on probation for a weapons charge and transferred to East high school after getting expelled from a different public school.

At his previous school, the shooter made posts about weapons, which were flagged. Police later searched his room and found a rifle with a “high capacity magazine and a silencer”, reported NBC News.

The wounded school officials were taken to an area hospital, with one in critical condition. Following a multi-hour manhunt, the student who had wielded the gun was found dead in a wooded area after an apparent suicide.

Last month, a 16-year-old student, Luis Garcia, died after being shot while sitting in his car outside East high school.

At a memorial, Garcia was remembered fondly as a varsity soccer player who was caring and loving, reported CBS News.

“This should have stopped with Luis,” said Jasmine Brown, a West high school junior, at Thursday’s rally, the Post reported.

“This should have stopped with Columbine.”

Two police officers will be posted at East high school for the rest of the school year in response to recent violence.

The Denver school superintendent, Alex Marrero, has also vowed to have a police officer in each of Denver’s comprehensive high schools.

However, the new policy is probably a violation of a 2020 school board policy, where the board voted to remove officers.

But students at Friday’s gathering were critical of the solution.

“This just feels like something he’s doing just to say he’s doing something,” said East high school student Mateo Tullar to Denver 7. “He’s treating this from a very political sense when it really needs to be about human health and life.”