MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some of the students who survived the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting are spending the summer trying to get young people registered to vote.
These are the same teenagers who organized the March For Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.
It was just weeks after a student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, shooting and killing 17 people. This group has now organized what’s called the “Road to Change.”
We talked with some of the leaders of the group Monday afternoon. They are on a bus tour stopping at 50 cities across the country.
Monday was their second day in Minneapolis. They set up a voter registration tent at Corcoran Park, and shared their thoughts about the power of going to the polls.
David Hogg is one of the Parkland, Fla., shooting survivors.
“We were founded out of tragedy and we just care. We don’t want to see Minneapolis be the next Parkland. We don’t want to see anyone be the next Parkland. It is possible to be for reasonable gun legislation and also pro Second Amendment,” Hogg said.
They are teenagers on a mission to end gun violence by traveling the country and asking people to register to vote.
Hogg says the goal is to elect more lawmakers who support gun reform.
“It’s not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about swinging things to morally just leaders,” Hogg said.
The Parkland students chose to visit cities where the NRA has made contributions to the campaigns of prominent politicians.
They also spent time talking with local youth leaders.
“I think it’s great to have this benchmark to open the eyes of our younger ones, to wake up. Get out and vote,” said Todd Gramenz of St. Paul.
Road to Change partnered with the Minnesota Youth Collective, which works year-round on voter registration.
Emily Wellen is the executive director of the group.
“We are really focused on talking about gun violence, and violence in general, in ways that affect our communities. School shootings are part of that, but we also talk about police shootings,” Wellen said.
But it is the impact of school shootings that is the focus of these young people.
“We are seeing kids with PTSD that most people don’t see unless they are in war. When is this going to end?” Hogg said.
At Sunday’s Pride Parade, they say they registered 59 people to vote.
“In America, we like to complain a lot. But if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain because you are part of the problem. You’re complaining to yourself. It’s time we stand up together,” Hogg said.
We asked about returning to school this fall and the students here today from Parkland, Fla., said they are all still struggling emotionally. The group is visiting Moorhead on Tuesday.