Students, parents and grandparents are joined by community during gun violence rally. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — When the call comes across the intercom, the students know what do. The doors are already locked from the inside; now the children pull down all the blinds and turn off the lights. Moving to a  wall wherethey can’t be seen by a shooter looking through the door, they sit in a line on the floor, their backs to the wall, being as quiet as they can, waiting. The lockdown is in full-effect.

“Enough…We are fed up.” This message spread across the internet  between the high schools of Knoxville. The message was clear and simple: Come to Market Square Mall in downtown Knoxville on Friday May 5th, rain or shine, and bring your voice or a sign. The reason? Gun violence and the opportunity to show their displeasure in the lack of leadership by the government of Tennessee in the area of gun violence.

The students got the memo. Over a hundred showed up, including teachers and family members in support of students who are tired of being afraid to go to school, tired of lockdowns, fed up with hearing about yet another school shooting, not knowing if they are going to live or die every day just trying to get an education.

The students also created a survey which they passed around through the crowds who stopped to look in wonder at the sea of red shirts and signs gathering around the gazebo. 

Hands reached out to sign the petition, even students on their way to their prom down the street stopped and took a moment to sign the petitions that page after page filled with names in agreement.

There were three items on the petition: safe storage requirements for firearms, closure of the background check loop holes, and red flag extreme risk protection orders. 

Under the gazebo, speaker after speaker spoke of the mental trauma inflicted on the students  and the the community, fear from not knowing if you’re coming home from school everyday, the feeling of dread as the loud speaker announces you are going into yet another lockdown; for many  it was the second time in a week they heard the sound of locks bolting and being told to be very quiet.

Following the speeches and rallying chants, the students took to the streets, marching down Gay Street with their signs and voices.

The students, with community backing, plan to meet and march again to let the legislature know they are fed up and want something done. NOW!!!