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Protesters stage ‘die-in’ to commemorate Pulse nightclub shooting

High school students from the Chicago area stage a die-in demonstration in front of Trump Tower to protest gun violence on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, on Tuesday afternoon, June 12, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Protesters gathered in front of Trump Tower for a “die-in” protesting gun violence Tuesday afternoon.

The protest was organized by local teens to commemorate the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting and to raise awareness about gun safety. At noon sharp, the small crowd of teens and adults lay down on the sidewalk of Wacker and Wabash to remain motionless for 12 minutes, representing those killed by gun violence.

As the protesters lay in silence, 16-year-old Proviso Math and Science Academy student Madeline Norton read aloud the names of all the Pulse shooting victims, then lay down to join them.

High school students from the Chicago area stage a die-in demonstration in front of Trump Tower, to protest gun violence on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Before the die-in, protesters used chalk to draw the outlines of bodies and write the names of the sites of recent shootings on the sidewalk. Many wore orange shirts or feather boas, orange being the color of the gun violence awareness movement.

Many of the protesters also wore orange price tags with “$1.05” in bold font — 17-year-old Evanston Township High School student Liana Wallace said that represents how much their lives were worth to the government. They came up with that number by dividing the amount the NRA had donated to Marco Rubio by the number of students in Florida, she added.

“Gun violence has been normalized in our communities and nobody is doing anything about it,” said 16-year-old Noble High School student Diego Garcia. “This won’t stop until people start knowing the value of a life. A lot of our politicians think the value of a weapon is way greater than the value of a life.”

Mark Andrews, a former Downers Grove South High School teacher, was one of the adults protesting among the teenagers. He said he’s sick of students having to worry about gun violence at school. Grade school teachers have told him their students are terrified of school lockdown drills, oftentimes “shaking and screaming” throughout the drill, he said.

Following the die-in, many of the student protesters gave speeches about their experiences with gun violence. Noor Alassdi, an 18-year-old Niles West High School graduate, spoke from the viewpoint of an Iraqi-American. She said while she once took issue with the nickname “Chiraq,” after seeing the violence in parts of the city’s South and West sides, she now feels the comparison to a war-torn country is appropriate.

Garcia encouraged everyone to join the group at their next rally on June 15 at St. Sabina, which will include Chance the Rapper and Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez.

Norton emphasized that this protest against gun violence wasn’t a one-off, but rather part of an ongoing effort.

“We’re here to send a message to our legislators,” she said. “We are not going to give this up. The march was just the beginning and this is a movement.”

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