Youth Rally to End Gun Violence

A Peacemaking Project by Hannah S.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Following the tragedy of the Parkland shooting, my friends and I formed the Youth Coalition to End Gun Violence, based in Orlando, FL. We are dedicated to advocating for common-sense gun reform, including expanded background checks and the banning of semi-automatic weapons. We will bring our efforts to a head at the Youth Rally to End Gun Violence on Wednesday, February 28th. At this rally in downtown Orlando, youth ages 15-25 will demand specific gun reforms and an end to the era of mass shootings.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of Gun Violence
we will address roadblocks to reform
by pressuring politicians to act and demonstrating the power of young voters

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • energize Central Florida's youth
  • mobilize young voters for change
  • pressure politicians to enact gun reform
  • stand in solidarity with Parkland activists and survivors

We will increase my / our compassion by...

Inviting Pulse survivors and survivors of the UCF shooting to speak at our event. We can broaden our event's scope to ensure that we truly represent those who have faced gun violence in our community.

How will you show courage?

Inviting local media, conducting interviews, and relentlessly marketing our events. We will put ourselves in front of the camera and make our voices heard.

How will you collaborate with others?

My teammates and I will workshop ideas with students from every school in the area-widening our base and ensuring that all of Central Florida is involved. We will start with students we know and build connections until all schools have had the chance to create their own chapters, serve in leadership positions, and workshop ideas.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

We will know we are moving in the right direction as momentum for our event picks up and more and more people commit to attending. We will monitor this with in-person engagement, as well as the online attention directed towards our Facebook page. In addition, the details will begin to solidify, as we organize our programming and media statements for the event.

Key Steps

  • continue to market our rally online
  • engage celebrities; encourage them to support our event
  • create and post flyers around Orlando
  • ensure permits are squared away with city
  • connect with sister organizations (LWV, Womens March, Pride Fund)
  • finalize speaker schedule
  • market event in-school at unity meeting
  • bring in sister clubs (Young Dems, Awareness Club, One Pulse)
  • create list of demands; specific policy requests
  • make and distribute #wewillnotbenext posters
  • give press release and invite local media
  • hold event; set up and clean up

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

During our rally, we were able to directly connect to those in the community who were affected by the Parkland shooting. We were able to acknowledge and witness their grief, and see how it had impacted them. The deep and widespread nature of this wound helped us understand just how mass shootings and American gun violence can damage communities--even from far away.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

Our community was forced (and allowed) to remain conscious of the tragedy in Parkland, as well as Florida's failures to pass common-sense gun legislation. I truly believe that we primed the pump for the Orlando March For Our Lives, which saw around 10,000 attendees, especially as our own group was involved in organizing the rally. None of that infrastructure could have been built without the rally, which captured a moment and allowed us to begin building a movement. Now we have a website, resources, club materials, and more. But the awareness of who we are, our values, etc. began with the rally.

How many people were impacted by your project?

300

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

About 150 people attended our rally, and it was broadcast or reported on by several local news stations.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

Our team did not necessarily learn more about the people affected by the injustice through this project, but we have done outside research before and after that has helped us. For example, our website now has a "problem" tab, that includes dozens of resources on American gun violence and its ills. It includes some of the most meaningful essays from victims of gun violence I've read, from Emma Gonzalez to Alex King.

What did your team learn?

These resources connected us to a web of gun violence activists online, who we follow and listen to. Many are survivors. One thing I've learned is how, for communities where gun violence is near-constant, sometimes the trauma of seeing someone shot or being shot doesn't register for a long time. How some people have grown used to the idea that this injury is so normal and so commonplace that neither the media nor themselves should really care. That's really motivated me to fight even harder, and to ensure our movement reaches and is led by people in Pine Hills, Liberty City, etc.

What challenges did your team overcome?

Our team's biggest challenge was time. We had to mobilize extremely fast to achieve our rally. We had to put up posters, get the word out, and secure permits in a matter of days. We were able to overcome these by working tirelessly and together--using social media and local news to promote our event. We targeted high-traffic areas for posters, and distributed them to other schools. We relied on a network of allies (usually adults) who had the knowledge and resources to help us. It was a lot of luck and a lot of work.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

Following our rally, we have become invovled with the League of Women Voters, March For Our Lives Orlando, UCF Never Again, and many more organizations. Our network now includes 12 schools, and we crafted an executive board to help manage outreach. The main purpose of the Executive Board is to provide a leadership structure, while ensuring a diversity of voices are represented. We are constantly working to continue to expand this network of club chapters. We also issue a weekly newseltter that we use to retain members and keep folks updated. Our website has also been a big asset!

Comments:

Dalton B.
6 June 2018 10:34

Hi Youth Rally to End Gun Violence!

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:

Your ability to turn your idea into real action so fast is incredible! Really!!! It is not easy to organize and plan an event with months before and you did it in weeks. WOW! And despite the speed of the event, you've clearly taken your time and been very considerate of the big picture of gun violence - it's not just mass shootings, but a daily reality for many. Your changes to your website (the "problems" tab) and inclusion of other youth leaders really stands out on this front.

I also love your partnering and collaboration - your ability to fit in your work into these larger organizations and moments is really impressive. And as you're growing, I love how diversity and inclusion is a priority. Collaborating with diverse voices is so important in peacemaking and you get that!

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!

-Dalton  

RaulPF C. Peace First Staff
30 May 2018 15:59

Thanks for sharing your reflection. It is great to see how these activities have motivated you to continue working in this area.  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
21 March 2018 13:12

Hi Hannah--yes, you should be proud! It all looks incredible! As for the orgs, let me know if you'd like to brainstorm more together about anti-violence organizations and radical justice organizations led by people of color more broadly. I'm happy to think through places that might be powerful connections.

Re: people of color on your board, it sounds like you're thinking through in positive, deep ways how to make sure that there are a range of voices in leadership. Let me know if/how we can support you in that process!

And I'm excited to hear the show went well! Sounds incredible. Looking forward to a copy of the audio. :)

Adrian  

Hannah S.
20 March 2018 18:37

Hi Adrian,
Thank you so much! We're really proud of the website and our online image so far. I also appreciate the advice to reach out to those organizations; I knew about BLM but not the others.
It's true that our board is a poor representation of our community. Griffin and Tim will both graduate next year, and I'd like to replace them with people of color. I'll be looking for people with excellent leadership skills and who have a skill we need more of; from artistic talent, community connections, to legislative knowledge. I'd also like for them to be from a different school. As I continue to connect with more students, this search will be at the top of my mind. I'll let you know when we've found someone!

Also, the radio show was great! The live audience was slim, but we were able to engage in some pretty good dialogue. I also know that the show was broadcast on a typically conservative station, so I hope we opened some people's minds. I'll send you a copy of the audio as soon as I have it!

Sincerely,
Hannah Siegel  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
19 March 2018 11:30

Hi Hannah,

Love your content curation strategy--and agree that connecting with organizations like Black Lives Matter, Dream Defenders, and Black Youth Project 100 may help a lot. I noticed that your board currently doesn't seem to have many people who are visibly of color yet... what do you think leadership might look like in the future?

How did the radio show go on Friday? So excited to hear more! And I LOVE your website. It looks sleek and straightforward--I'm very impressed!

Adrian  

Hannah S.
14 March 2018 20:55

Hi Adrian,
Content curation is based on individual (usually my) judgment. We have a list of six core values, that we work to reflect in what we post. We also put the words of Parkland survivors, like Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez, first. We regularly quote and re-tweet them. Apart from that, we make sure to integrate majority-black schools and black activists onto our timelines, to better represent. We also follow recent gun-violence incidents, lend support to other student activists, and offer some commentary on gun legislation/politics. Keeping a balance is really my responsibility.

I'll see if the radio show has a wesbite! We'll definitely let you know.

Centering folks who are more predominately at risk for gun violence is huge for us. So far, I've emailed a local anti-violence group that operates in Parramore. I've also reached out to Jones High, and other schools where gun violence and over-policing have been big issues. It might be a good idea to contact Black Lives Matter or a group in Sanford (where Trayvon Martin was killed) since we haven't heard back from the other groups yet.

If you'd like to check out our website, here's the link! https://youthtoendgv.weebly.com/  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
14 March 2018 13:58

Hi Hannah!

Re: student recruitment, that makes sense. What do you think some common obstacles to that commitment are for students?

Love the way you're doing outreach to so many folks on social media. What's your content curation strategy like?

And so cool that you're doing a 3-hour radio show! Will it be online afterwards? You should definitely post a link if you can. :)

Glad that you've been having fun building the site, and are using your great connections. I'm curious about how your work is making sure to center folks who have been working against gun violence in their communities for a long time/people who are disproportionately affected by gun violence. Let me know if you'd like to think through how to make that happen.

So excited about this project! Please tell us how we can best support your work moving forward.

Best,
Adrian  

Hannah S.
14 March 2018 8:45

Hi Adrian! Thanks for asking. As far as building chapters goes, it's not hard to find students who are interested, but it is hard to gauge their level of commitment in forming a chapter. We've reached out to a good group of students, but in many ways the ball is in their court. Our social media is going fairly well. We have about 50 followers, and one of my strategies is to follow all of my classmates, then their friends, and then their friends, until I find most of Central FL's students. A good 1/10 of those people will follow us back, so it's a good way to find the people who will be interested in us. We might have to bow out on the conference as we're doing a 3-hour radio show on Friday night, but we're preparing a website that will brief folks on gun legislation with a bi-weekly newsletter. I've had a lot of fun building the website and the meeting with Anna was great! She's going to let us use some of their canvassing software for voter registration purposes.  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
8 March 2018 13:00

Hi Hannah,

So glad to hear about all these things! Re: social media--how's it going? Let me know if you want to think together about strategy. Happy to support however I can, if it's useful!

How is the process of establishing chapters in other schools in the area going? Are students/administration receptive? And what's it like to brief folks on gun legislation? How are the upcoming march plans going? And what's the conference going to be like?

I love that you're working on building your membership. There are definitely many other humans who care about this issue, and collaborating with others always makes this process better. And it's so cool you got to talk with Anna Eskamani! What was that like?

I know you can pull it off. Having more folks on your team will build momentum too. :)

Adrian  

Hannah S.
7 March 2018 14:51

Hi Deb!
One of the upcoming events for our group is a die-in at State Representative Mike Miller's Orlando office. He is a House Republican who voted against the assault weapons ban. Mr. Miller is someone I've interacted with personally, and I do not feel he can be swayed on this issue through conversation. He's also announced a run for Congress this year, against Democrat and strong supporter of gun reform, Stephanie Murphy. The die-in will be in a few weeks and is being organized by another political group. Nonetheless, I wanted the Youth Coalition to be involved. From what I've seen, the most successful die-ins are ones with a uniform look and message, as well as clever signs that can rest on top of people. As an artist, how would you suggest our group use signs, clothing, and props to best amplify our message? Thank you!  

Hannah S.
7 March 2018 14:47

Hi Adrian! Thanks for checking in. It's going pretty well right now. Since our rally, I've continued to build our social media. My biggest priority now is simply continuing to build our group's members, infrastructure, and impact. In order of importance, I am trying to establish chapters in other Orlando-area schools, keep our members updated on gun legislation in Florida, plan our involvement in the upcoming walkouts and marches, and preparing for a LWV conference in April. I've also been contacted by a few local progressive candidates, so I was fortunate enough to have a sit-down meeting with Anna Eskamani and her campaign manager. All that's left is to maintain momentum, and build a strong enough group that I can start to delegate tasks :) Hopefully, I can pull it off!  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
7 March 2018 13:37

Hi Hannah--just dropping by to say hi! I was notified of lots of good conversation happening on your page through our site, and I'm pumped about your work. How's everything going? :) Adrian  

Hannah S.
5 March 2018 20:16

Hi Deb,

Thank you for all of your advice. Unfortunately, I did not see this before our event was held. We absolutely agree that our movement has to operate from a basis of compassion and that our message should reflect that. We are writing a group constitution now to reflect that. I will definitely consult you as we continue to organize, and plan our next event! Thanks once again.
Sincerely,
Hannah Siegel  

Deborah N.
2 March 2018 17:18

HI Hannah,
I am a practicing artist as well as social justice activist. Congratulations on your selection for a mini-grant. Kelsey has certainly covered a lot of the bases that I would address, but I have a few additional thoughts.

One of the reasons that I believe that the Parkland students have been so successful in getting their message out is how they have focussed on their
goals and trauma and have tried to stay away from demonizing the "other side." This is so important because there are many gun owners and even NRA members who support common sense gun safety legislation. Your generation can help turn the tide of the divisive partisanship that has so infected this country on so many issues.
Another strong aspect of what the Parkland students are doing is recognizing the importance of getting the older students to register to vote. If there is any way you could incorporate a voter registration effort with your march, that would be helpful.
Finally, when you make signs, think about recognizing and thanking some of the retailers in Orlando that have taken their own steps - like Dick's Sporting Goods - "from now on, I'm getting my sporting goods at Dick's"
or something along that line.
And speaking of signs, if you do have participants from other schools and organizations, it could be helpful to have signs indicating who they represent.
Some of this may be obvious, but I hope there is some food for thought.
Feel free to ask for more feedback if you think I could be helpful.
Best of luck.

Deb Nehmad
www.deborahnehmad.com  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
26 February 2018 17:09

That's great news. What else can we help with? :)  

Hannah S.
22 February 2018 17:38

Hi Fish! Thank you for your great advice. We talked to the city attorney's office, and were able to get our permit moved along.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
22 February 2018 15:19

Hi Hannah -- sounds like you're going about this the right way. You're right that you need a quick resolution. I'd start by calling the city attorney's office, and I'd also see if anyone on your team knows an attorney who might be able to advise you. Is there anything on the city attorney's website process with guidelines for how long it takes to process an application? That might give you a sense of the timeframe.  

Hannah S.
20 February 2018 22:47

Thank you for all of your help and insight!  

Hannah S.
20 February 2018 22:46

Hi Fish! Thank you so much for your praise and support. Currently, our biggest obstacle is that we have not received true confirmation from the city that our rental permits have been approved. We know it is in city law that certain barriers (security deposit, city insurance plan, fees, waiting periods) may be waived via a first amendment exception. However, the city attorney has not responded to our application for this exception. As our rally approaches, this makes us nervous and prevents us from marketing the event. We forestalled filing certain permits, like an assembly an amplified noise form, because we expected to receive confirmation of waived fees. Technically, our assembly would not be legal (at this time). I would hate to have to cancel our rally due to a paperwork jam. Do you have any insight or advice?  

Kelsey T.
20 February 2018 17:45

Congratulations! As we've e-mailed about, your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

Strengths:
I am so impressed by your incredible courage and compassion and amazing resolve to organize your community in this way. Your insight and plan are both very strong. I love that your solution is both about standing up to politicians and specifically about demonstrating the power of young voters. I think your plan demonstrates incredible courage, compassion, and collaboration -- your ideas to invite both Pulse survivors and UCF survivors is a powerful way to join together different parts of this movement -- and I'm glad that you are already thinking about how to connect with other partners in the movement. I am also impressed by how concrete your steps are, as well as your plan for keeping track of how you are going in the right direction.

Things to Consider:
One way you could strengthen your insight is by getting a bit more specific about the root cause that you are addressing -- what are some of the roadblocks to reform that you have identified and which one(s) do you think your action is addressing? Our project & solution tree tool can help you dig into this if you haven't already. I'd also encourage you to continue to think about how you can "pressure" politicians with compassion. To find a sustainable solution to any injustice, we have to involve the people who are helping to perpetuate that injustice. It will be important to continue to reflect on how you can find the right balance between holding politicians accountable -- and yes "pressuring" them -- while also communicating with them in a way that demonstrates your compassion for them and gets them to listen to you. Since similar actions to yours are happening around the country, I also think considering how to capture both the story of what happens before, during and after the march would be really powerful -- as well as capturing your own learning that you can share with other young people organizing in this way in the coming months.

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!
 

Fish S. Peace First Staff
20 February 2018 10:57

Hi Hannah - what an awesome project. This is such an important issue, and thanks for raising your hand to lead. Sounds like you have a great plan for moving forward -- it's amazing how quickly you're moving while still working so well with others. What do you need? How can we help?  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
31 July 2018 16:10

Hi Hannah!

I hope you're doing well and having a good summer! I wanted to check in and make sure that you knew about the first-ever Peace First Summit happening on September 16th in New York City. This event will lift up the stories of young people who are changing the world, right now.

We are flying out five young people who completed the Peace First Challenge to share their stories of change onstage, connect with Peace First fellows, get advice from a Brain Trust, and receive peer mentoring from a Peace First Fellow.

We want you (or a member of your team) to apply to be featured at the Summit! You can start your application right here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd6X9fTrSTC6PoXjLpVUtNlJgZHbd5QdB6-hgxlC-d7DBlK_g/viewform You must submit your application by tomorrow, Wednesday, August 1st. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Warmly,
Adrian