DC Students speak out during Rally For DC Lives

WASHINGTON, DC --  Saturday, DC high school students sacrificed a morning of sleeping in, to gather at Folger Park ahead of the March for Our Lives and speak out against the gun violence that has been plaguing their communities.

“Almost every week, someone in my community dies due to gun violence and no one says a thing. Will the march help all lives including the people of minority or the lives that they think matter”, said National  Collegiate Prep student, Nevaeh Williams to a crowd of hundreds.

She’s part of a group of from her school who used the event to honor one of their own, 18-year-old graduate, Zoruan Harris who was gunned down in 2016 during the Dorsey Day Event in Barry Farms.

“Athletic kid, very great sense of humor, smart, ambitious,” is how described National Prep teacher, Mr. James.

Zoruan was a star football player and well-liked by his peers, but more than that, his former teacher, Mr. James says he was a leader.

“I remember just watching how the kids and even the adults gravitated towards him and leaned on him at times when they needed some student leadership maybe to try to direct some positive influence over the student body.”, said Mr. James.

School social worker said “His death was… it had a very big impact on all of us.”

Nigel Jackson is the School Social Worker for National Prep… He says the Rally for DC Lives is a way to honor Zoruan by educating his peers on why senseless violence happens..

He said, “Zoruan followed the script. He was one of the good guy’s and somehow there’s this idea that certain people are in certain places and if something bad happens to them, they kind of deserved it.”

That is the mindset that many who attended Saturday's rally hope to dispel.
Student, Lamont Odoms says he and Zoruan lived in the same neighborhood.
He said that he came out to rally for stricter gun laws because he wants to feel safe just walking down the street.

“We see everyone around the world, schools and things are getting shot up, but no one’s talking about DC… no one’s talking about the Black kids in general, everybody’s talking about how everyone else is getting affected, but we’re the main one’s getting affected and we’re the ones with the silent voice. I want to make a change today.”, said Odoms.

Students from other schools also took to the podium.

While addressing the crowd, Mayor Muriel Bowser praised City Council for moving on some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but says more needs to be done by neighboring states.

“Our laws don’t help us if Virginia doesn’t pass common sense gun laws, if Maryland doesn’t pass common sense gun laws and their illegal guns come into our city!”, said Mayor Bowser.

While many feel that Saturday's march is a great start, National Prep teacher, Giani Clarkson hopes the momentum will sustain past the march to effect lasting change. He said, “I don’t want to lose anymore students inside of my classroom due to senseless gun violence.