‘We call B.S.:’ Student organized rally calls for advocacy, gun legislation reform


Photo credit: Emma Alperovich

Yasi Gohar ’20 stands at the rally with a sign that says “Never Again.” She protested to fight against gun violence.

“No thoughts, no prayers. More policy, more change.” 

These words echoed throughout the student-led rally against gun violence at Santa Monica City Hall on Friday, April 20 — the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. Nearly a thousand students gathered in Santa Monica for the protest and participated in events such as voter pre-registration and an interactive activity that asked students to share why they walked out of school that day.

Maddie Fenster ‘20 and Hannah Kim ‘20 were two students that helped plan the event through a new student organization called The Los Angeles Student Activist Coalition [LASAC]. The two were inspired after Archer students’ unplanned walkout on Mar. 14 and wanted to continue advocating and spreading awareness against gun violence.

“There should have been gun reform after Columbine 19 years ago, and that didn’t happen. We wanted to tell the media [that] we are still here, we still care and we are still angry,” Fenster said. “We wanted to show our solidarity, and show that we aren’t going anywhere this time. We won’t stop fighting until a change is made.”

As one of Archer’s representatives, Kim had various roles in planning the event.

The LASAC team stands on the steps of Santa Monica City Hall. Leaders from many schools across Los Angeles participated. Photo courtesy of Maddie Fenster ’20

“I organized the logistics of the rally. I set up meetings with the Santa Monica City Hall workers and managers, got permits and closed [roads],” Kim said.  “I also [emceed] for the rally.”

Because of the short timespan for planning and advertising the event, both girls said that they were very “nervous” about how it would turn out. 

Kim said he expectations for Archer’s turnout were low since Archer students would have to be absent from school in order to attend the event. However, she said that she was relieved upon seeing almost a hundred Archer girls show up.  

Like Kim, Fenster said she was also apprehensive due to “the attention span of teenagers,” but her fears disappeared when the event began. 

“I was kinda worried that people wouldn’t be listening to the speeches.  I was worried the speakers would feel disrespected, but everyone was giving their full attention, especially the people at the front,” Fenster said. “A lot of people were crying. Everyone sang along and cheered. Obviously, if teenagers are going to pay that much attention, [it] just shows how much we care.”

The rally was not only attended by gun-control supporters but by opposition, too. Kim was walking to help some students find the rally when “alt-right” protesters surrounded her.  

“[The “alt-right” protesters] were picking fights with me and everyone who had the orange shirts that said ‘Student Organizer’. We were labeled as the leadership in this rally and they wanted to pick on us,” Kim said.  “I was alone at the time, and I was scared because they were bigger and stronger than me. But [University High School] kids, came up — a bunch of guys and girls — and they linked arms right in front of me.”

Fenster said her most memorable moment occurred while she was taking photos of the events and was able to see the passion and emotion of the student protesters. 

“Everybody was so passionate, and I truly believed that everyone who was there wanted to be there,” she said. “It was memorable to see that I’m not the only one who cares about this. Over a thousand students care about this just as much as I do.”

Kim and Fenster believe that voting is the most important thing in order to enact change, and they hope that their generation is able to enact political change.

“My belief is that we are the generation that will change things. But if we wait until we are adults, we are going to wait for another 20 years of more gun violence, more sexism, more discrimination,” Kim said. “Eighteen is when you should vote. Everyone should vote because your entire life depends on it. The politicians you vote for, the politicians in power, they should reflect on your values because they are your representatives.”