by Jeremy Rogers
For many planning to participate in tomorrow’s protest honoring the lives of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it will be a demonstration of political outrage, but for others gun violence is more personal. We got to sit down with two important women who are organizing the demonstration and hear about their reasons for speaking out.
Darla Thomas, the Alpha Chi Omega sorority sister who organized the event, has personal experience with mental illness in her family. Thomas grew up with an older brother who she said would be considered mentally ill. While her brother does not have a history of gun violence, Darla attributes this to the absence of guns in her family’s house.
Darla is working with Ball State freshman Lexi Angel who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High last year. In a public Facebook post on February 15, Lexi shared,
“I’m at a loss of words. The fear and defeat I felt today while waiting to hear back from the teachers who changed my life and the students that will remain my friends forever was the most traumatic experience. This will stay in my heart forever. To think the first man I saw every morning and always put the biggest smile on my face, Coach Feis, shielded students today is mind boggling. He was has always been a hero to me. My heart is just shattered”
When we talked with her, she shared her experience learning about the attack on her school.
“Honestly as I was sitting there watching the TV, what was so calming for me was that I was watching my friends come out of the building, and that’s how I was checking off who was out. And I was just truly going insane.” – Lexi Angel
In this despair there was also hope. Angel said that she was so proud of her friends who are speaking out in public forums and on television. She emphasized how important it is for young people to speak out and relayed how much it means for students from Parkland to see people standing with them in solidarity even in Muncie, Indiana.
As they look forward to the demonstration, Thomas said, “We want to honor the seventeen victims. We want to say their names, but we also want to put our voices out there and make a stand and send our message to representatives.”
Attendees of the protests will gather on the University Green at 9:45 a.m. in preparation for the 17 minutes of silence to honor the lives of those killed one month prior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Video: produced by Michael Robb