“Our Walk,” From Armbands To Demanding Limits on Firearms

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Uyeki delivers a powerful address while Gibbins signs her words for the hearing impaired. Photo by Joshua Sanchez/SAC Media.

15 minutes before 10:00 a.m. on March, 14,  Join-A-Club is in full swing. Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” unwittingly and prophetically signals the movement to come. In a 17 minute demonstration, students push for legislators for gun reform.

Nationwide schools demonstrated a call to action in a symbolic walkout, encouraging participants to wear orange – a color that has become attributed to gun reform activism dating back to 2013, when friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a victim of gun violence, chose the color to raise awareness for the cause.

Wearorange.org explains the color choice, “Orange is what hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others from harm. Orange is a bright, bold color that demands to be seen.” Their overall goal and message is echoed in their about us “We are not headlines or statistics…we demand to be seen and we demand to see change.”

This is not the first time students have spoken out and certainly will not be the last. Tinker v. Des Moines was a landmark case in establishing the rights of students to protest, when John F. Tinker and his sister Mary Beth Tinker along with fellow petitioner Christopher Eckhardt decided to wear black armbands to school in support of a truce to the Vietnam war.

They were sent home. They did not return to school until the end of their protest, the day following New Years Day. A lawsuit followed regarding their rights to take such an action, and the court ruled in favor of Tinker, declaring that the action was an act of freedom of expression, and did not interfere or disrupt learning.

“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” remarked Former Justice of the Supreme Court Abe Fortas.

The Halloween colors aside, student activism has scaled up from a simple article of clothing, this walkout symbolized a new beginning of stake raising. For students in campuses that do not support this action to make a point, they must risk reprimand, if they truly believe in the cause.

Most campuses supported the initiative though, and several people organized for the day of the walkout. One of the organizers for Mt. SAC, Chisato Uyeki, 48, faculty and collection development librarian, reinforced the meaning behind the event addressing the significance of each minute honoring each victim and the overall message.

“To bring attention to the need for gun control legislation,“ was one of the event’s goals that Uyeki mentioned. She further explained that it was not just about guns, but rather  “To reflect and show solidarity together, acknowledge loss, and address what can be done”

For 17 minutes, passionate words poured from the microphone, with appearances from Uyeki, Melody Waintal and Angelica Cruz, SAC Media and Substance Magazine Editors-in-Chief respectively.

Michael Pineda, 18, business administration major felt it was a “good chance to express our views” and Winson Dieu, 18, computer science major wanted to “partake against violence” and felt it was wrong that America normalizes gun violence.

While most were echoing the thoughts spoken, one man gave sound to the hard of hearing. Alpin Gibbins, 45, sign language interpreter directly converted English to Sign Language on the fly. Incredibly, in most of Gibbins signing events he receives a script less than 2% of the time, yet he still delivers it like it was rehearsed from memory. Even more incredibly, he barely got the invite to translate for the walkout the morning of, but he humbly remarked it was an “honor to be a part of it.”

Gibbins, along with the director and counselor for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, had the general consensus that Mt. SAC is “the best school available/accessible for student needs” and thanks to their team everyone heard this powerful message.