MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wednesday in Minneapolis a group of high school students took to the streets to share a message. For the past year they’ve been dealing with a lot of emotions and trauma.

They are now using those feelings to bring about some positive change in their community.

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Tajelle Freeman is in the 11th grade at DeLaSalle High School.

“It is important to come from youth because we are the next generation. If we’re not doing it, then nobody else will,” Freeman said.

And so, they hit the pavement. Students from the newly formed Black Student Union led the way and others followed. Theresa DeGross is a senior at DeLaSalle.

(credit: CBS)

“Since George Floyd’s murder I’ve been trying to educate myself more on this and the phrase ‘white silence is violence’ really stood out to me,” DeGross said.

The students left their campus in downtown Minneapolis and marched more than 4 miles south to the George Floyd Memorial.

They marched to make a point.

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“The death of George Floyd, that wasn’t the first time that something like that happened, that’s just the time that it’s been recognized, that’s the time that it’s been recorded and documented for people to see so that it can’t be ignored anymore,” Freeman said.

Umeran Hailu, also a junior at DeLaSalle, lives two blocks from where Floyd died.

“Ever since then, it’s been pretty traumatizing, I think not just for me or my family but everyone in the neighborhood,” Hailu said.

Traumatized by Floyd’s murder and the city’s surging crime, she explains, “For example, my brother if her hears any gunshots or any fireworks or anything like that, just because he’s scared of guns and violence, he has to come to my room and sleep with me at night. Living in a neighborhood where a lot of violence does happen, you do have to think about all the situations you are in, ’cause my mom always says to me, if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, anything could happen.”

“We need to figure out what’s happening, why are there high crime rates?” Freeman said. “I don’t think it’s that hard to get to the bottom of what’s been going on and find the source of the problem.”

So they are marching in hopes of getting attention from lawmakers and everyone else, too.

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“We can’t rewrite history so we just have to keep moving forward from today,” Hailu said.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield