Protesters against gun access mark Va. Tech anniversary

Nicole Stempak

Thirty-two people lay down in Risman Plaza yesterday afternoon to represent the 32 victims of the Virginia Tech shooting last year. The demonstration was sponsored by Eta Sigma Gamma and the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. Amy Thompson, who organized

Credit: DKS Editors

Thirty-two people lay in Risman Plaza yesterday afternoon to mark the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings.

“The goal then today is to bring remembrance, but also to ask all of you to think about gun violence prevention and to do something about it to make a difference,” Amy Thompson, assistant professor of health education, said. “Let’s not let their death go in vain.”

The protest was to remember the victims and to raise awareness about the easy accessibility of guns in America, Thompson said. Thompson is also the co-adviser of Eta Sigma Gamma, an honorary health organization. Kent State was one of more than 80 universities across the nation holding protests yesterday, she said.

The protest was sponsored by Eta Sigma Gamma and the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. According to a brochure, the coalition aims to reduce and prevent gun violence through education.

Thompson rang a bell while participants lay on the ground one by one. They were given index cards with a victim’s name.

Once all 32 names were called, she said the protest would remain silent until “all of the victims are properly remembered – and their families.”

“We have issues that need to be addressed in terms of policy in our state and across the nation,” she said. “But let’s remember today that we are here for the victims and their families.”

About 10 minutes later, Thompson thanked the participants and observers, which marked an end to yesterday’s protest.

Freshman pre-medicine major Kyle Sonagere sat on the steps, watching the protest. He said he was trying to figure out what was happening.

“We were just in there eating dinner,” he said, pointing to the Student Center. “When we walked outside, we just sat down to see what they were doing.”

Freshman exploratory major Howard Bowens said the protest effectively caught people’s attention.

“I think it’s pretty cool that they’re remembering everything that happened and protesting guns at the same time,” he said.

One of the protesters, Lori O’Neill, from Citizens for Safety, said she was in Washington D.C. Monday attending a gun summit sponsored by the Mayors against Illegal Guns. She came to Kent State for the protest.

O’Neill said the parents of Reema Samaha, one of the victims from the Virginia Tech shooting, spoke to them.

“It was tragic to have to meet these people who never, I’m sure, never thought they would be talking about gun violence in their lifetime and lose a daughter,” she said.

Contact general assignment reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].