This Wednesday, UVa’s Minority Rights Coalition held a solidarity march in response to the Parkland Shooting and in honor of the memory of those who have lost their lives to gun violence.
With conversations about gun reform prevalent on Grounds in the past few weeks, the march marked the culmination of a pattern of UVa students taking action for change in gun reform laws.
As stated by the MRC’s Facebook event, “The purpose of the march is to call attention to inaction on the part of our leaders and legislators when it comes to gun violence, show support for the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, stand in solidarity with black and brown victims of gun violence perpetrated by the state, condemn the ease with which dangerous figures can get their hands on guns, and allow a space for people to express their thoughts, grief, and outrage.”
Uma Loganathan, a UVa alumna, told her own story of encountering gun violence. Her father was a professor who lost his life during the Virginia Tech shooting. Loganathan spoke about having to travel home from UVa to bury her father.
“At the time, there was a huge focus that we will never forget, we must treat it as an anomaly. But here’s the thing: gun violence – it’s not an anomaly. Here’s the thing, you hear about Columbine. You hear about Virginia Tech, and Aurora and Tucson,” Loganathan stated. “You hear about shootings in shopping malls and in theaters and in other universities. There is gun violence in our streets, in our cities, in our homes… and it’s an epidemic.”
Loganathan criticized President Trump’s proposed solution of arming teachers to end school shootings:
“[The] New York city police force, very well trained, they hit their target 18% of the time in a gun fight with another shooter shooting at them… You think your teachers have a better shot?”
Of the nine clubs beneath the umbrella of the MRC, the Black Student Alliance and Queer Student Union had members speak on behalf of their organizations. Other presenters included the president of the NAACP at UVa, a current second year, two high school students, and two UVa alumni. This march occurred just eight hours after the UVa National School Walkout: March for Our Lives, an event coordinated by UVa Student Council.
The crowd of UVa students and Charlottesville locals met in the Amphitheater at 6pm, despite the frigid weather and harsh winds, to share their message with all in attendance. Members of the crowd gathered with “Demand Action” and “Enough is Enough” scrawled on their signs. After all the speakers shared their messages, the group marched to the Jefferson statue by the Rotunda to rally.
Shaun Khurara, the president of UVa’s Queer Student Union, also used the march as an opportunity to speak about the gun violence that queer individuals and people of color face, particularly when it comes to transgender men and women being killed by guns.
“These numbers continue to rise across the years,” Khurara explained. “There are the people that look like me, my role models. They frequent the media more often dead than alive.”
Khurara echoed the sentiments of frustration with the current system and hope for the future.
“[Those against gun reform] ignore my transgender siblings and my brown and black family. They ignore Baltimore. They ignore Chicago. And I’m tired of trying to live in system that was not made for me…” he said. “When it’s my people that are harassed and shot dead in our homes, jobs, temples, mosques, and schools, watching leaders have fruitless conversations and events on the issues of gun violence without our voices is maddening.”