Updated 1:25 pm, Thursday, to reflect correct march on Washington date
Island students and residents galvanized this week around efforts — including pending state legislation — to end school violence in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that took 17 lives last week.
Martha’s Vineyard Charter School senior Keith Chatinover is heading an effort to bus Island students and Cape and Islands residents to a planned March 24 march on Washington to demand legislative action to address gun violence in schools. At least 18 gun-related school events have occurred nationally since Jan. 1, 2018.
At Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, according to junior class vice-president MacKenzie Condon, MVRHS Student Council has orchestrated a school walkout on Friday, Feb. 23, at 1:45 pm. “The purpose,” Condon said in an email, “is to show the school’s support for the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida who are dealing with horrible tragedy, and being a brave voice for change as well as to express thoughts, emotions, and ideas pertaining to the unfortunate commonality of these types of crises. Students will be gathering on the football game field in solidarity with each other at that time.”
And Laura Silber, a well-known Island social activist, pitched in quickly to develop an “action chain” that provides information on pending state gun control legislation and ways and means for voters and groups to lobby their state legislators. (See letter, “Support gun control legislation,” in this week’s paper that lists numbers Islanders can call to reach lawmakers.)
Chatinover said that the actions of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland inspired his activism. “I was really inspired by kids in the shooting, who survived it. I saw them on TV, on CNN. It was so powerful. They lived this, unlike the politicians. This is a movement of kids, not adults, and it’s not going to go away.
“So this is my way of contributing to the march,” he said. “I was saying I wanted to go and other kids said the same thing. So we said let’s charter a bus,” he said, adding that 15 Charter School students, about a dozen kids from the regional high school, middle schoolers, and adults have committed to the march. “We want to fill the bus. Interested people can contact me at email@example.com — either to go or to donate, so others can afford tickets which now are around $100,” he said.
The plan is for march-goers to be picked up on Friday, March 23, off the 8:30 pm ferry in Woods Hole for an overnight drive to Washington, D.C. Marchers will be dropped off on the Washington Mall for the event, picked up at 7 pm for the overnight drive back to Woods Hole and an early boat back to the Island, he said.
In Massachusetts, two bills are currently under consideration, one co-sponsored by Rep. Dylan Fernandes (see story page 13), that would allow intervention and removal of guns from people identified as threats to commit gun violence. Silber has developed a call chain for concerned voters to lobby elected representatives to pass this Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation, now law in five states.