East Bay middle school students stage walkout to urge gun law change

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Wednesday, June 1, 2022
East Bay students stage walkout to urge gun law change
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Middle school students in Pleasanton walked out of class Tuesday to urge changes in gun laws in wake of the mass shooting at Texas elementary school.

PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- Pleasanton middle school students not much older than those who died last week in the Uvalde, Texas shooting walked out of class Tuesday morning to urge changes in gun laws. While the protest lasted only 10 minutes, the students believe they made a powerful statement.

"We are demanding change," said organizer Ayana Hasan, an eight-grade student at Thomas Hart Middle School.

Almost a third of the 1,200 sixth, seventh and eight graders participated in the student-led protest that was sanctioned by school leaders. SKY7 was overhead as they assembled outdoors to hear speeches by the organizers.

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"We are demanding a change because we don't want to be living in fear as a fellow middle school student who could walk into school tomorrow and get brutally shot," said Ayana Hasan. "I don't want that, and I'm sure neither do you."

Ever since the Uvalde school shooting in Texas, these Pleasanton students have been dealing with a wide spectrum of emotion, including fear, anger and sadness. Ayana said some of her classmates were jaded because so many school shootings have occurred. However, she was determined to share with them a vision that gun law change could make a difference.

"This was difficult, but I'm glad and I used that anger and sadness that I had in me to kind of ignite a flame that I used to drive me to do this," she said. Her uncle, she said, had survived an active shooter incident in Los Angeles several years ago.

VIDEO: 9-year-old says teacher played dead after being shot in Uvalde classroom, recounts seeing gunman

For a few students, it was an opportunity just to break from routine. However, they had been warned that misbehavior would lead to cancellation of the protest. School administrators were impressed by their decorum and organization.

"This is the first large scale student demonstration that we've seen at middle school in recent memory," said Patrick Gannon, director of communications for the Pleasanton Unified School District. "The fact that 300 to 400 students showed up in support of that and wanted to be part of something is impressive and commendable."

The student organizers believe their walkout sent a message that they're worried about their safety. They also wanted to honor the lives lost in Uvalde.

Classes will be over in a matter of days, but Ayana and some of her classmates say during the summer they plan to write members of Congress to try to urge them take action against gun violence.