STEM School students stand in freezing rain after having walked out of a Brady/Moms Demand Action gun control rally, billed as a “community vigil.”
Hundreds of angry students from STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver, Colo., walked out of a fake “vigil” for school shooting victims when it became apparent that they had been duped into attending a gun control rally organized by Moms Demand Action (MDA) and the Brady Campaign’s Team Enough.
A mere two days after two students opened fire in the hallways of the school, MDA and Brady promoted the rally as a “Community vigil for all innocent lives impacted by the STEM Highlands Ranch attack.”
Students, families and staff gathered for a chance to share their grief and mourn murdered 18-year-old student Kendrick Castillo, killed when he heroically attacked the assailants.
Instead, they became pawns in a gun control rally. Denver 9News reporter Kyle Clark tweeted that hundreds walked out, complaining that presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., politicized their grief.
MDA organizer Laura Reeves unashamedly pushed her anti-gun agenda: “We became paralyzed by the NRA. We did not hold our elected officials accountable as they were loosening the sensible gun regulations that were keeping us safe.”
Reeves recommended that grieving students work hard “to elect gun-sense candidates like Jason.” She ticked off a list of gun control measures students should back, and urged them into what she called “meaningful action”: “registering voters, becoming well-informed voters, running for office, staging walkouts and demonstrations, writing op-eds, raising money, forming student-led advocacy groups and using the power of social media.”
That’s when the event descended into chaos. Someone shouted, “Let STEM kids speak!” Emcee Kallie Leyba, president of the local teachers’ union, said organizers had been unable to connect with students; “We’re right here,” shouted a student to applause.
That’s when several hundred angry students marched out of the gym, holding their phones aloft and shouting, “Remember Kendrick!” Outside in the freezing rain, they directed their outrage at the media as well as politicians, raising their phones and chanting, “Mental Health! Mental Health!”
“Don’t use Kendrick’s name for political reasons!” a student shouted, according to the Highlands Ranch Herald.
Christopher, a 17-year-old STEM senior, told Colorado Public Radio, “They were just talking about Kendrick like he was a prop and that wasn’t something I could handle.”
“This was not about us,” said another. “We can do our own vigil.”
Later, many students retook the gym, seizing the open microphone to rail at those politicizing the event and joining hands to remember Castillo.
“We are pretty much really mad because they turned us into politics about gun control when we came here to respect our brother Kendrick,” a STEM student named Gavin told Colorado Public Radio. “We are people, not a statement.”
Once back inside, Gavin was last at the microphone: “Thank you all for coming, supporting, honoring, if you weren’t here for politics,” he said. “If you were, thank you for ruining it. And before we go, we want to say we love you Kendrick. We will remember you ever always.”