More than 130 University of Pennsylvania students and a handful of faculty and staff lined the curves of Locust Walk on campus Thursday to protest gun violence in the wake of the school massacre in Parkland, Fla. Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead.
The protesters each held a sign corresponding to one of the 371 mass shootings that have taken place on American soil since Jan. 1, 2017. At 12:15 p.m., the group fell silent for 8 minutes and 17 seconds — or 497 seconds, corresponding with the 497 people killed in mass shootings during the same period.
The demonstration was the brainchild of four Penn students, each inspired by the political activism of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who have spoken out in favor of stricter gun control measures since the massacre.
"We wanted to do something that would grab people's attention in different ways — something more than signing a petition or have people call their legislator," said senior Jana Korn, one of the organizers.
Korn, along with junior Elise Reynolds, freshman Amelia Galbraith, and senior Sarah Hinstorff, decided on the idea of a demonstration while brainstorming ways for Penn students to become involved in the national conversation over gun violence. Each is connected to Penn Democrats, either by currently or formerly serving in a leadership role, but all agreed that they wanted a demonstration that was nonpartisan and inclusive.