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Dear neighbor,

As many of you may know, students in our communities have been working hard to bring attention to passing smart, comprehensive gun control reform both in Massachusetts and at the national level in the weeks since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.  These young people are making connections across the state and country, across lines of class and race.  They are making history.

This newsletter was written largely by those students who are sharing their stories of activism. It also has updates about events on the issue at the State House and tomorrow's March For Our Lives in Boston.

Best wishes,
Pat Jehlen

Students gather outside the State House in Boston,, 3/14/18
Photo taken by Attorney General Maura Healey's Office

For students growing up in the 21st century, mass shootings and gun deaths are not a new phenomenon. As early as third grade, I can remember practicing hiding under desks, out of the line of vision from a potential unwanted visitor waiting on the other side of the classroom door. These “lock down drills” became just as routine as the fire drills at our schools. As I reached sixth grade, the Sandy Hook shooting happened and though I recognized the tragicness of this at the time, I still wasn’t yet able to grasp the idea that something could be done; something needed to be done.

Numerous amounts of mass shootings came in the years leading up to 2018, not to mention the countless amounts of gun related deaths due to gang violence, drug activity, and specifically police brutality which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Still, the idea of change within our country did not register with me both due to my lack of knowledge on firearms at the time and my privileged perspective. Then, along comes the shooting in Parkland, Florida, which sparked the very movement that I write about right now. For those of us students, teachers, and parents still sleeping, this shooting was a wake up call.

Quickly after the tragedy in Florida, students both nationally and locally were starting a discussion about guns in our country and demanding gun control. After some conversations, research, and a push in the right direction by Somerville High School students organizing their own walkout, I realized that something can be done; something needed to be done. 

Jonathan Matskos, Cambridge Rindge and Latin 

Senator Jehlen joining high school and middle school students from Cambridge
Students and legislators in
Gardner Auditorium at the State House on March 14
Jonathan Matskos, Cambridge Rindge and Latin 
Students are sending the very important message that they will not back down, and that this is just the beginning of the movement. The students are showing their representatives that they are determined to make the streets and the schools safer for everyone. These students have made the decision to do everything and anything they can do to pass bill H.3610.
 
The ERPO will allow household members or petitioners to report persons in possession of firearms of being an imminent danger to themself or others. This then allows the police to place a temporary weapons ban on the respondent awaiting a trial within 14 days. The trial determines whether or not the respondent will have a year long weapons ban placed on them.
 
This is not the first walkout that Massachusetts students have participated in. Under the name “Students Against Gun Violence,” students have been walking out for the past few Wednesdays to advocate for gun reform on a local and national level. This movement started at Somerville High School, where upwards of 400 students walked out of school on February 28th. Two weeks ago, the movement spread beyond Somerville, where upwards of 2,000 Massachusetts students, from four different high schools walked out calling for more comprehensive gun control laws. Last week, Students Against Gun Violence joined in on the national walkout day and went to the state house to lobby for the ERPO bill. The students are joining the national movement and show no signs of stopping.

Anika Nayak, Amalia Hochman, Sam Dornstein
Somerville High School, Students Against Gun Violence

SHS SAGV website: studentsagvusa.wixsite.com/protest
sagv@shsgmail.com      @studentsagvusa
 


Somerville middle school students at the State House
In the twelve hours leading up to Cambridge and Somerville’s March to Union Square, our little town was circulating a message. At eight o’clock on Tuesday, March 6th, a little text post was making waves around Medford High.“8:17 tomorrow morning - Medford walks out.”

We got eighty kids to follow us four miles to Union Square that day, and eighty kids to follow us back to address our Headmaster and Superintendent about the day’s events. The next Wednesday, on National Walkout Day, we had forty people give up their snowy day-off from school to meet with groups from all around Massachusetts at the State House. The next week, last Wednesday, nearly one-thousand Medford High students filled our driveway for seventeen minutes of silence as traffic passed us by.
 
I’m proud to finally be a part of something bigger. I’m proud that we’re finally beginning to catch up to our neighbors in Greater Boston. Most importantly, though, I’m happy that Medford is finally beginning to collaborate with our friends across Greater Boston to make these things happen.
 
We owe it to the students of Parkland, and we owe it to our classmates to take action. What happened last month can still happen anywhere, but this is our generation’s movement: what happens next is up to us. We’ve been pushing MHS to meet us at the March for Our Lives on the Boston Common at noon on March 24th, continuing to ensure Medford remains a part of this conversation, and that acts of violence like the one that happened in Parkland, Florida last month never happen again.

Matt Carroll & Erik Lam, Medford High School





Medford students with Senator Jehlen
Most students left the school and we marched for 17 minutes through Winchester. A few students made signs and silently held them up and showed them to stopped cars on the road. Many people stepped out of their offices and stores along the side of the roads to take pictures or pay us respect with nods or thank you's. Some people wouldn't look us in the eyes. We are students who understand that not every adult will be on our side in this situation, but that is what makes it a movement. We will elevate ourselves to achieve our common goal. We won't stop marching until politicians take action, for we students are who they will serve in the near future. 

Silvia Dowdell, Winchester
 
 
Over one thousand students gathered for the 17-minute walk around town. The police lent us their support, blocking traffic as we passed through. People came out from stores to cheer us on. Though the school’s official statement labeled it a walk for nonviolence and mental health awareness, for most students this was a politically charged event. Many were holding signs and protesting the NRA or mocking the idea of arming teachers. Though not all bystanders agreed with our purpose, it felt good to exercise our voices. 
 
I feel like I owe it to my teachers to put what they have given me to good use. They have taught us to be informed, to analyze, and most of all to care. Inaction would have been an insult to the impact they have had on me. Marches and walk-outs like this are what make me proud of my generation—this is what education looks like. This world is becoming our responsibility, and though protests like this may seem like small acts, I think it is preparing us for inheriting the issues facing our society.

Linnéa Holahan, Winchester
Senator Jehlen with Silvia and Linnéa

Many thanks to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas alumni in MA for visiting the State House this week! They attended a press conference held by Cambridge's Representative Marjorie Decker to advocate for her ERPO bill, H. 3610. 

(Photo Credit: SHIRA SCHOENBERG / THE REPUBLICAN)
Information for Saturday's March in Boston: 3/24/18

Per the event's Facebook page:

The March is leaving from Madison Park (75 Malcolm X Blvd, Boston, MA 02120) heading to Boston Commons for a rally.

START TIMES
Arrival Time: 9-10 am
Step Off: 11 am
Commons Opens to Public: 12 pm
Rally Start Time: 2 pm

BUS INFORMATION 
Madison Park High is the Drop-Off for marching groups.
Commons is the Pick-up and Accessibility Drop-Off area.
--- for more info on busses, email buses@marchforourlivesboston.com ---

We will have accessibility space and ASL translators!

Bring water and snacks!
Do not bring weapons, backpacks or signs with stakes or sticks.

And finally, be good guests in the communities we are visitors in. Be respectful during the event and remain non violent.

---

We, the students of MFOL: Boston, are joining students across the country to demand that our lives are prioritized over access to guns. We seek to amplify and emphasize the voices of communities of color, who are both disproportionately affected by gun violence and silenced in their calls for reform. We are organizing and mobilizing our generation to raise our voices and take action on gun violence in America. We are calling on students and supporters to join us in this movement.

In the words of Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors; the fearless, faithful, resilient cries of those students, “This is it.” 

All who stand against the senselessness of American gun violence are welcome to attend. 

Website: marchforourlivesboston.com

We came together because, right now, regardless of what state you live in, there are people who don’t feel safe in their schools, in their homes, and on their streets, because of the lack of gun control in the United States as a whole.

We rallied because we don’t want anyone to ever have to feel that ever again.

We rallied because we needed our voices heard.

We rallied because we knew we could create change, and in this country, change is needed.

Jonathan Matskos, Cambridge Rindge and Latin 

Copyright © 2018 Committee to Re-elect Pat Jehlen, All rights reserved.


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