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In Chicago, Students Protest Gun Violence In Communities


Across the country today, thousands of students are walking out of their classrooms in protest against gun violence and the shooting death of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No more silence.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: End gun violence.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No more silence.


MARTIN: That sound from demonstrations in Brooklyn, N.Y., where students were calling for stricter gun control. We heard earlier from Philadelphia, where large groups of students had walked out of school and were marching in protest. And we turn now to Chicago, where we find NPR's Cheryl Corley. Hey, Cheryl. Where are you, and what's happening?

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: Well, I am in Renaissance Park on Chicago's South Side, where students from three schools have come to commemorate the lives of the 17 who were killed in Parkland. But also, they are here to commemorate the lives of many victims who were killed by guns violence here in Chicago as well. So they have a number of speakers. And they're just getting the commemoration here.

MARTIN: In the speeches that people are giving or just some conversations you've been able to have with some of the students, is - are they calling for some kind of specific legislation?

CORLEY: Well, they're saying - a lot of them do support the assault - the ban on assault weapons. But I think more of them here are concerned about street violence, as opposed to violence in the schools. They say they recognize what happened in Parkland, but in this community especially, which has been plagued by gun violence, they want action here to get guns off the street. So the assault-weapons ban is one of the things that they do support.

MARTIN: This is happening, of course, today - students across the country walking out of their classrooms in a sign of protest, in solidarity. But it's also the prelude to a larger march - right? - that's happening in Washington. What can you tell us about that at this point?

CORLEY: Well, it's interesting. Some students say they hope to be able to go. That's called the March For Our Lives. It was organized by students in Parkland. Some of the students who have come to this event actually visited - went to Florida to visit with the students there. So they're part of the activism and are going to be part of the planning process as well.

MARTIN: Have the students in Chicago - because they are talking more broadly about violence in their own communities that's not necessarily mass shootings - have they felt left out of the current debate, which really has focused on these mass attacks at schools?

CORLEY: Well, you know, it's really interesting you ask that because, in some sense, they have felt that way. But they also say that this - the attention on Florida has kind of galvanized students all across the nation. And so they think that they're going to also get attention, that the issues that they face are part of the whole conversation.

MARTIN: Right.

CORLEY: So now they do feel that they're part of that conversation.

MARTIN: And being heard perhaps in a new way. NPR's Cheryl Corley at the student protest in Chicago this morning. Cheryl, thank you so much.

CORLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.
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