Crowds gather at Tualatin High for anti-violence vigil
The deaths of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last week led to well over 1,000 people gathering on the Tualatin High School football field Monday night for a vigil against violence in schools.
Parent Becky Chamseddine said she was at home last week watching the news about the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with her daughter, Emma. "She literally cried on my shoulder. And I thought: I have to do something," Chamseddine said.
She began getting the word out on Sunday about a rally. By Monday, Feb. 19, she said, around 200 people had signed up on her Facebook account, which she said surprised and pleased her.
But as she stood on the makeshift stage that evening, under the harsh stadium lights, her breath billowing with fog, she spoke to more than five times that many people.
"When moms work together, there's nothing we can't do," she told the cheering crowd.
Chamseddine's message for elected officials was startling simple. "Do. Your. Jobs!"
She added, "Our president needs to get off Twitter and get back to the White House!"
Among Monday's speakers was Sierra Kruse, student body vice president at Tigard High School. Kruse was born in 1999; the same year of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. "I've never known a world without school shootings," she said. Sierra Kruse - 'I've never known a world without school shootings.'
While other generations define themselves by violent anomalies — Sept. 11, 2001, or the assassination of President Kennedy — Kruse said her generation is defined by violent actions that happen again and again and again.
"It's time to say: enough is enough!" Kruse said.
Ella Hillier, a senior at Tualatin High School, came to the rally to tell people that they are not alone; especially those who feel isolated or in personal crisis.
She also had harsh words for the nation's lawmakers. "The government response has been so weak. I'm sick of it."
Dustin O'Donnell, a teacher at Tualatin High, said he finds hope in the loud voices coming from students in Florida, from around the nation, and on the frost-crisp grass of Tualatin High's football field. .
He compared this week's student-led reaction to the Black Lives Matter, Women's March and the #MeToo Movement; grassroots movements that have redefined the narrative of long-established national ills.
"We need action," he told the crowd. "This could be it."