Local Sarasota student activists joined students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to discuss an end to gun violence during a town hall on June 27 at Selby Library.
On Wednesday, June 27, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School made a visit to Sarasota during the “March For Our Lives: Road to Change” Florida bus tour. The students from Parkland joined three local Sarasota high school students in a panel to talk about the student-led activism around ending gun violence, as well as to encourage young people to head to the polls and vote.
The tour comes after 17 students and staffers were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14. In March, students organized the March for Our Lives demonstration that brought hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington, D.C.
The Florida tour is stopping in all of the state’s 27 congressional districts.
About 500 people lined up at Selby Library to hear the young activists speak, but the auditorium was able to accommodate 200 attendees.
The town hall event was moderated by Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good who asked the panel of students questions before taking questions from the audience.
When Good asked the students how their communities have been responding to their efforts in improving school safety, Riverview students and founders of Students Stand Up Katy Cartlidge and Hailey Landry said the reactions have been mixed.
“People don't want to see perspectives that are different from theirs because it questions their ideals and makes them rethink what they value,” said Cartlidge.
Landry said when they organized a student walkout at her school’s campus after the Parkland shooting, many students were supportive, but there were also students who made verbal attacks.
“As a teenager, I wasn’t politically involved before all of this,” she said. “But if you don’t get involved, you’re not thinking about what you actually want and put party over policy. That's what we want to see in Sarasota — our peers getting more politically active.”
Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Delaney Tarr discussed her experience advocating for change after the shooting.
“We were treated like kids,” Tarr said. “It showed us that this is a youth-led movement about us empowering each other and empowering ourselves to show that we can be more respected and that we are capable of making a change.”
The Sarasota students announced they are organizing a march in Orlando in about a month and plan to build their network of students who support an end to gun violence.