Cornellians walked out of their classes and huddled in the snow on the Arts Quad on Wednesday morning to stand in solidarity with protests against gun violence, remembering the victims of the Parkland shooting.
During the 17 minutes of silence for each victim, members of the Cornell Democrats, who hosted the walkout, lined up along the entrance to Goldwin Smith Hall with signs made for each of those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one month ago on Feb. 14.
Natalie Brown, president of Cornell Democrats, led the event. She said the walkout not only served to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting, but to “remember each and every victim of every school shooting, unnecessary death and murder that could have been prevented with stricter and common sense gun laws.”
Additionally, Brown said the walkout was also meant to show “our frustration, dissatisfaction and anger with our congressional representatives who are not doing their job and representing us,” mentioning representative Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) who Brown said has “ taken thousands of dollars of NRA money.”
“We have had enough,” Brown declared, which was met with applause from the protestors.
Gary Pudup, western New York regional director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, was the featured guest speaker. Calling “this region in New York” a “home of progressive liberal thought and action,” he focused on maintaining the momentum in instituting tougher gun laws.
Pudup said he hopes to achieve “a society free from the constant fear of gun violence.” He spoke about the “false arguments” that are used to “distract us from our goal,” pointing to the argument that the shooter was evil.
“Evil is an organization that holds the value of profits higher than the value of our children’s lives,” Pudup said.
He spoke out against a lack of initiative from President Donald Trump, Congress and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in instituting stricter gun laws.
“As I stand here in the midst of higher learning, of free thought and research, I ask why anyone would deny us a right to information and study [on gun violence],” Pudup said.
Pudup was a former member of the NRA and a police officer in Rochester, NY. He said he was inspired to take action against gun violence after his work in law enforcement.
After the event, Pudup told The Sun about the “societal neglect” of failing to take action against gun violence.
“Gun violence is like cancer — there’s not one form of cancer,” he said, emphasizing that gun violence takes the form of crime, mass shooting and suicide — issues that he said must be kept in mind.
“I saw a lot of those things in my time as a police officer,” Pudup said.
Concluding the protest, Brown reminded the crowd not to forget the fight against gun violence.
“Unless we stay united in our resolve for this issue, it will fall flat,” she said. “So you can’t check out after walking away today.”