Activist, Parkland survivor David Hogg advocates for gun reform


Zoe Malin/The Daily Northwestern

David Hogg speaks at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue. Hogg described his experience over the past year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Maddy Daum, Assistant City Editor

David Hogg said nobody should ever hear the “unconscionable” screams from a school shooting again.

Just over a year ago, Hogg survived one of the largest school shootings in American history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Hogg spoke Thursday about gun violence and how activists can make meaningful change at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue in Evanston. Nina Vinik, the director of the Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform Program at The Joyce Foundation, moderated the panel.

Hogg was joined by Mollie Hartenstein, a senior at Evanston Township High School, and Lamar Johnson, the violence prevention coordinator of the BRAVE Youth Leaders — a program at St. Sabina Church in Chicago that teaches students how to advocate for peace. The panelists spoke about young people’s role in working to prevent further gun violence.

On Feb. 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. In response to the shooting, Hogg helped launch March For Our Lives, a worldwide, student-led movement calling for gun control.

Hogg said Thursday that he expected 90 people to show up to the main March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24, 2018, five weeks after the shooting at his school, but hundreds of thousands flooded Pennsylvania Avenue. After the Parkland shooting, millions of people spoke up because gun violence resonates with all communities, he said.

“What else did we have to lose?” Hogg said. “We had lost our friends, my sister had lost four friends that day, on February 14, when she was 14 years old. … I wanted to make sure that I was doing something.”

Hartenstein participated in a high school walkout at ETHS on March 14, 2018, to honor Parkland and advocate for change. She has continued to call for gun-control reform and said she is working with other Evanston students to speak at rallies and connect with other activists in the Chicago area.

She is also working with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to provide a platform for her youth-led movement so she can educate others about the effects of gun violence. Hartenstein said there is a false perception that youth movements are not “legitimate” and cannot manifest in policy solutions.

“The connotation of something being youthful doesn’t have to be bad, but often kind of negates the fact that it is making change,” Hartenstein said. “When I think about how adults help the movement like we’ve been saying, we want to lead with you and we shouldn’t have to take a back seat to what is happening.”

Johnson said he has been working with students at BRAVE Youth Leaders to prevent violence and train younger generations to be peacemakers and fight for change. He said his students “want change and demand it now.”

Johnson said gun violence is a part of his students’ everyday life in the Chicago area, but March for Our Lives gave cities like Chicago the chance to tell their stories.

“These young people have crossed lines, crossed barriers … because all of them want change,” Johnson said. “All of them want their lives to be safe, all of them want to be able to live a life of peace and justice. And that is what they are fighting for regardless of their environments.”

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