In the wake of the shooting and death of Luis Garcia, East High School students are holding Denver Public Schools accountable for change.
This year, there have already been 80 mass shootings. Mass shootings. That statistic doesn’t include individuals who have suffered at the hands of a gunman – individuals like East High School’s Luis Garcia, a 16 year old who was fatally shot while sitting in his car just outside the premises of East. It is a known fact that gun violence is everywhere in America – nowhere is safe. But that fact is a lot more potent when the victim is a member of your community or school. And for students at East, that reality is more obvious than ever.
Garcia was leaving school to go set up decorations for a loved one’s birthday party when two teenagers in a stolen car drove past him, shooting him in the head. Though two arrests were made around the same time as Garcia’s attack, police have yet to confirm their involvement in the shooting. Enraged for their friend as well as concerned for the safety of the school, a few East students met with the Denver City Council to pose safety concerns and hold the city and school district accountable for their failings in keeping students safe. Students are demanding an increase in safety policies, urging Denver Public Schools (DPS) to take action to prevent future tragedies. Those safety policies include the reinstatement of school resource officers (SROs), which were initially taken away from schools due to DPS ending its long time relationship with the Denver Police Department.
As Bayan Wang, a reporter for Denver 7, explained it, “an open records request…revealed Denver Public Schools (DPS) found a record number of weapons on school property last school year.” It is, therefore, no surprise that students have been getting injured and killed, and many students at multiple DPS schools find it absolutely unacceptable to continue refusing to take action. However, the vice president of the Denver School Board, Auon’Tai Anderson, has a strong opinion towards keeping SROs out of schools for good. “SROs will not be coming back to the Denver Public Schools,” Anderson said in an interview with Denver 7. “Although we have a working relationship with our law enforcement, that does not mean they need to be physically present within our building. Denver Public Schools has a robust department of safety that is both present in our schools and armed patrol that can respond to our schools in minutes if anything were to happen.”
However, that “robust” department wasn’t enough to protect Garcia. And his family and friends refuse to take “no” for an answer when it comes to preventing further shootings. Noah Kaplan, a candidate for Denver City Council District 10 as well as an educator at East High School, stood behind students as they addressed the City Council. “As an educator in Denver over the last seven years, I have come to know the fear, the anger, and the mistrust our students feel coming to school after news like this,” said Kaplan. “We cannot accept that childhood includes fearing for your life at school. Denver’s kids are our responsibility. It’s time to listen up.” Many students feel as though Kaplan’s sentiments are ones that should be shared by all, and rightfully so. Students face fears surrounding shootings constantly – even if they feel safe at school, there’s always a chance, and a fairly high one, that something tragic could occur. It is time to act. It is time to protect students before they require protection. It is time to stop school shootings before they can occur. It is time to stop tragedies like the one that befell Luis Garcia’s family.
If you are interested in supporting the Garcia family in their time of need, please consider donating to the GoFundMe created by the East soccer team, linked below. https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-luis-garcia-and-his-family
Click here for an article regarding the importance of gun control in America.