And they say real activism is dead these days. Students across the Chicago and the country over took to the streets today following a mass walk-out of schools in response to foot-dragging by politicians and leaders for gun control legislature in the wake of the Majory Stoneman Douglass High School shooting in Parkland, Fl weeks ago.
Walking down State street in the Loop just before noon, loud cheers and organized chants preceded a collection of thirty or so students from nearby Jones College Prep who held signs and repeated cries for more laws. Those were reflected across the country as high school students left their classrooms from Washington D.C. to Seattle in an effort to show just how important the issue is to them at a time when government and the citizen’s relationships are as fractured as ever.
For students in Chicago, long fingered by Trump and his cronies as the murder capital of America (it isn’t), the walkout and need for gun control is one that is very near to their lives. Some on a daily basis. Similar to a piece Vice News did on Miami Shores high school, Miami County Day School who professed marching against gun control for active shooters at schools, but also against the ease of which their contemporaries can get ahold of firearms. Their community has seen a rash of gun violence that has affected the students in a myriad of ways, not unlike those kids who took to State Street yesterday.
For as much as has been made about the amount of guns on the streets of Chicago and the shootings they invariably produce, the city itself has long been known for having some of the strictest laws on purchasing a gun in the country. Despite that, guns find their way to the city by operating in “collar counties” on the edge of Cook or in Northwest Indiana where the laws are more loose. In many ways, Chicago is a case study for how gun control can only work if we all work together.
While the pride of the Baby Boomers whine at one another and bend over for the NRA, Millennials are proving the half-baked caricatures of them as self-involved narcissists unable to band together for a common cause should be paying attention. For over a decade thought leaders and company heads have gone back and forth over why, in the age of inter-connectedness, the youngest generation appears apathetic. In actuality, we’re seeing the first wave of kids raised with social media as a sustained accessory. Eight years ago when Instagram first hit cell phones, the oldest of yesterday’s marchers were ten. Theirs is a reality steeped in collective understanding and for perhaps the first time since Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon began sending fresh-faced teens over to Vietnam. The politicians have shown their own hubris by turning their backs on the future of the country at a time they were much needed. Now, they’ll start to see just how effective those Twitter fingers can turn to, well, progressive political change from the ground up.