The city noise was deafening. I thought back to the public announcement that our principal had given the other day. They should’ve announced the protest earlier and given us more time to think about how or if we might participate and to make signs. As familiar faces flashed by, I worried. I thought back to the other night when I’d told my mom about the walkout. When I asked if I could go, she just said, “Sure” in a bored voice.
As we crossed the street, my heart fluttered. There were plenty of people who would hate this protest; people love their guns. I thought back again to earlier that morning and the kid who couldn’t go because his parents were gun owners and didn’t want him protesting against them. The kid, Jonathan, had been on the verge of tears and pushed his best friend for asking him why he couldn’t go.
Then we got to the BART station. We stood talking, a few of my friends pushing each other around. Sam almost fell into the street. I said, “Sam, we came to protest death, not to make more.” Suddenly the voice of the dean cut off the conversation. “Everyone, silence begins now.”
We stood there. The first car passed silently; then some cars started to honk and drivers and pedestrians waved. I was surprised to see a lot of old people out and about. I found that weird for some reason. A very old looking woman passed with the funniest glasses I had ever seen. I almost laughed, but I got control of myself. This was a time to show respect, not fool around. Some people just passed by, their eyes purposely averted. What irked me was that not one person had a sign that said what we were protesting. The only signs we had, had messages like #NeverAgain or the names of the deceased.
When we finished our 17 minutes of silence, we walked back to the school, chanting “Peace! Nonviolence!” We marched over to the portable that served as a lunchroom. We sat down together. I found out that Bret, who was my YouTube channel’s rival, had been recording the whole event and laughing at the victims. The pride I’d taken in participating turned to a boiling rage. Did this kid have any respect? As the dean started talking, my rage dropped to a simmer. We went around, people saying how they felt. I didn’t raise my hand, perhaps because of my shy nature or because of my dread of public speaking. When we wrapped up, it was fourth period. I left with my head up and proud. Even if I was still angry, I had let people know that violence was a problem.