High schools students from around Massachusetts will gather in Worcester Wednesday evening to get ready for a march that begins Thursday at City Hall.
They're marching until Sunday to the headquarters of gun maker Smith & Wesson, located 50 miles away in Springfield, to call on the company to take some new steps to protect the public from shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida.
“They have been silent for so long,” says 17-year-old Springfield-based organizer Chinaly Chanvong. “We really just want to have them be held accountable for their contributions to this national epidemic.”
Student organizers, who have been organizing the march for the last two months, are making two demands from Smith & Wesson. First is to stop manufacturing weapons that are illegal to sell in Massachusetts, which include assault weapons and large-capacity magazines; and to donate $5 million toward gun violence prevention research in honor of past shooting victims.
Smith & Wesson employs about 1,800 full-time employees at its Springfield location.
Organizer Vikiana Petit-Homme, who is a rising senior at Boston Latin Academy, says the march is about solving a crisis — and not about the Second Amendment.
“I don’t think it should be repealed,” says Petit-Homme. “These are very dangerous weapons and there needs to be stricter gun laws.
While about 70 students and adult volunteers are walking the full 50 miles from Worcester to Springfield, Petit-Homme and Chanvong say they’re expecting around 200 protesters in Blunt Park in Springfield around noon time on Sunday.
The speakers at the rally will include Davig Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed by a gunman.
Smith & Wesson has not responded to repeated requests for comment and has not committed to meeting with the student organizers.
Click the audio player atop this post to hear our interview with Petit-Homme and Chanvong.
This article was originally published on August 22, 2018.
This segment aired on August 22, 2018.