Michigan State students gathered Wednesday at the state’s capitol building in Lansing to protest gun violence following Monday’s mass shooting on campus that killed three students and injured five others.
Hundreds of people were present at the protest, which began at noon, and the rally eventually turned into a silent sit-down where attendees “listened to student experiences” and stood their ground to demand gun reform legislation.
“We may not be able to take away the pain and trauma that you have experienced, but we stand by you and we will listen to you and we will squeeze you so tight in order to hold you together when you feel that you’re falling apart,” a speaker at the protest said, according to local news outlet WOOD TV 8.
“We can push for legislation and enact common sense gun laws because there’s nothing else we can do. Because thoughts and prayers are not working,” they added.
MSU student Maya Manuel who helped organize the demonstration also told the news outlet that it’s not just a student issue, but rather a community one, so all were welcome to share and participate.
“We have had enough. I think it is something that so many of us are infuriated by, and looking at my friends, knowing how angry they are. They are impacted by this. I’m impacted by this,” Manuel said.
Several elected officials were in attendance at the rally, including U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, state Sen. Winnie Brinks, state House Speaker Joe Tate, and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the station reported.
A vigil is set to follow the rally Wednesday evening at The Rock, an MSU landmark that’s been painted more than once since the shooting. On Tuesday, The Rock said, “How many more?” in large red letters. Overnight, The Rock was repainted to read, “Allow us to defend ourselves & carry on campus.” The final graffiti from Wednesday morning now says, “To those we lost,” and “To those healing,” along with the three victims’ names.
The shooting is the 67th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year—according to Gun Violence Archive— and has drawn calls from students, educators, activists and politicians to pass stricter gun control laws, both nationally and in Michigan.
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