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Public Safety

"Why is it up to us kids to save ourselves?": Oxford community joins nationwide March for Our Lives

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April Van Buren
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Michigan Radio
Organizers say nearly 600 people showed up to the March for Our Lives demonstration in Oxford, Michigan on June 11, 2022. There were an estimated 300 protests across the country, including ones in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Traverse City, and Port Huron.

Students, parents and community members marched in Oxford on Saturday, many in orange Oxford strong T-shirts or blue ones that said March For Our Lives.

Organizers say nearly 600 people showed up to the demonstration in Oxford.

There were an estimated 300 protests across the country, including ones in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Traverse City, and Port Huron.

The march was almost seven months after the shooting that killed four Oxford High School students and injured seven other people.

This protest, like many across the country, was almost entirely student-led. Rising seniors and recent graduates talked about what it’s been like to survive a mass shooting at their school. And they called on officials to implement stricter gun control.

Protesters yelled chants like, "The people united will never be divided," and "Show us what democracy looks like; this is what democracy looks like."

Dylan Morris was one of the students who organized the march.

"In Oxford, we know firsthand the damage gun violence has on a community. And we know firsthand that thoughts and prayers are not enough," he said.

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April Van Buren
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Organizers say nearly 600 people showed up to the March for Our Lives demonstration in Oxford. There were an estimated 300 protests across the country including ones in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Traverse City, and Port Huron. Left to right: Madeline Johnson, Sophia Ziegler and Reina St. Juliana.

He and other students have created a nonprofit called No Future Without Today, a group focused on gun reform and mental health support.

Aubrey Greenfield is a rising senior at Oxford High School.

"No child should ever have to use a calculus textbook as a potential weapon in their classrooms. No child should ever have to barricade their classroom doors with bookcases out of fear someone might break in and harm them. No child should ever feel unsafe at school, a place where the only events should be making friends and learning," she said.

She’s 17. She called mass shootings the worst feeling imaginable.

Madeline Johnson agreed with her. She said she was seconds away from coming face-to-face with the shooter at Oxford High School. She got away. Her best friend Madisyn Baldwin did not.

"Madisyn was so excited for the next chapter of her life and she was killed right before Christmas her senior year. She never got to go to prom or graduation. And she will never attend college or find her dream job... the life that she never took for granted was taken from her, in an instant, at school, of all places," she said.

Enough is enough, the students said, including Reina St. Juliana, who lost her 14-year-old sister Hana during the Oxford shooting.

St. Juliana said her generation will not wait and do nothing as school shootings continue to happen across the country.

"We should not have to be resilient after watching our friends die. And we should not have to be strong after our siblings are murdered," she said. "We will not accept a country where bullet casings are found in hallways, where blood is on the walls and dead children('s) bodies lay on school grounds."

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April Van Buren
/
Michigan Radio
Students, parents and community members marched in Oxford on Saturday, many in orange Oxford strong T-shirts or blue ones that said March For Our Lives. Organizers say nearly 600 people showed up to the demonstration on June 11, 2022.

"Often during active shooter drills during school, when I hid in a corner silently waiting for the pretend shooter to pass by our classroom, I wondered, why is it up to us kids to save ourselves?" St. Juliana said.

Kids weren’t the only ones speaking. Parents and gun control advocates spoke too — for what they called “common sense gun reform." Things like gun storage laws, background checks, and mental health assessments.

The students say this is only the beginning. They plan to organize more protests and marches and to continue to push for legislation that calls for gun reform.

The demonstration included an over three mile march with a stop at Oxford High School. There was a moment of silence for each of the four students who died in the shooting in November: Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana and Justin Shilling.

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