Black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School demand to be seen and heard

Out of 3,000 students 11 percent are Black, but those voices have largely gone unheard.

Brandon Dasent and Tyah-Amoy Roberts (L), both students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting on Valentine’s Day that killed 17 people, hug as they attend a press conference held by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) on March 26, 2018 in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Rep. Wasserman Schultz. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gathered in Parkland, Fla. on Wednesday to remind everyone that they are victims too. They feel that they have been overlooked by their peers and the media. Many believe that the solutions to curbing mass shootings leave them more vulnerable to police harassment.

According to the Miami Herald, 11 percent of Stoneman High School’s 3,000 students are Black, but those voices have largely gone unheard. It was that feeling that led the students, with the help of Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, to speak out.

Kai Koerber, a 17-year-old student, told the Herald that he returned to school after the shooting to see his slain classmates’ empty desks turned into memorials with police officers out in full force at the school. He feels that the extra officers only increase the possibility of him and other students, particularly Black teens, become victims of police brutality.

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“It’s bad enough we have to return with clear backpacks,” he said. “Should we also return with our hands up?”

Tifanny Burks, a community organizer with Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, said that Black students in the gun violence conversation means broadening the topic from mass shootings to police-involved shootings, which would include the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and, most recently, Stephon Clark.

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“They were shook,” Burks said. “It felt like there was a thousand police there. Having all those police there made their school feel like a prison.”

“Is the solution to less gun violence more guns, just with police officers’ names on them,” she said. “We have to have that conversation.”