Often overshadowed by their classmates, a group of Black Parkland, Florida school shooting survivors will rally with the Rev. Al Sharpton against gun violence in front of President Donald Trump’s New York apartment in June.
Aalayah Eastmond, a junior at Stoneman Douglas High School, announced the rally alongside Sharpton at his National Action Network in Harlem on Saturday. Eastmond, 16, survived the February 14 shooting, which ended with the slaughter of 17 people, by covering herself “with one of her dead classmates,” she recalled.
About 11 percent of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s 3,000 students are Back, but they’ve received almost no media attention in the aftermath of the massacre, according to the Miami Herald. Few of them have been visible leaders in the student-led “March For Our Lives” protest for stronger gun control measures.
What’s more, authorities are not listening to their concerns about the beefed-up police presence in their school intended to prevent another mass shooting. Among their concerns, many of the Black students fear that the police will racially profile them, treating them as “potential criminals.” These law enforcement encounters, they worry, could result in police shootings of unarmed Black students.
The June rally, which coincides with New York state’s Gun Violence Awareness Month, will have a different focus than the “March For Our Lives” demonstration in Washington, D.C. It will also focus on combating gun violence in urban communities. Demonstrators will start at Trump International Tower on Columbus Circle and march toward Fifth Avenue and Trump Tower, where the president has an apartment.
During her comments, Eastmond noted that she lost an uncle 15 years ago to gun violence in Brooklyn. “So for it to happen to me, in my face, that just shows that change has to happen now,” she stated.