Silent Protest

Frederick High School sophomore Hannah Whang uses chalk to write messages on the steps of Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ in Frederick as part of a silent protest against school shootings.

A group of Frederick High School students are using a popular children’s art device to inject their voice into the gun violence conversation.

Each night this week, students have gathered downtown at the Baker Park gazebo and local houses of worship and used chalk to write names of victims of gun violence, gun violence statistics and anti-gun-violence slogans to raise awareness.

“We chose chalk, because there’s an innocence to chalk,” said Frederick High sophomore Sydney Robinson. “Kids use chalk to play with. And we’re innocent. We can’t vote yet, but we wanted to make our voice heard.”

The students, largely empowered by student voices from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after the mass shooting that occurred there Feb. 14, got permission from local churches and police to put their artwork on church steps and sidewalks.

On Sunday night, they posted the names of the 32 victims of the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, as a reminder of the anniversary of the attack, which was Monday.

On Thursday night, they wrote the names of victims of the Columbine High School massacre, and the Parkland shooting on the steps of Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ, along with the phrase, “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.”

Friday is the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, where two shooters killed 12 students and a teacher and injured 21 other people in 1999.

“They’re not routine, but they’re happening enough that I think a lot of people are becoming desensitized to it,” sophomore Hannah Whang said. “And we need to do something more than just mourn and pray for the victims.”

So the students, in groups as few as two and as many as 10, hope their artwork will push people to get involved in the conversation to take action to reduce gun violence.

Although the students participated in the national walkouts on March 14, they felt the conversation was starting to slow down, since the Parkland shooting more than two months ago. There were also people being left out of the conversation.

“At Frederick, we obviously have a very diverse community, and people don’t really acknowledge that black kids are 10 times more likely to die by gun violence than white kids,” Robinson said. “We want minority communities and minority voices to be a part of the conversation and have their voices heard.”

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 is the first mass shooting that most of these students remember, Robinson said. She was 9. When she got home from school, her father told her she wasn’t allowed to turn the television on until he got home to talk to her. He “watered down” the conversation but told her what had happened.

Now, the conversations Robinson has have changed.

“He’s mostly just giving me tips to stay alive,” Robinson said. “In case something like that happens.”

Whang said she fears for her mother, who is a teacher. She never used to worry about a potential shooting threat.

“Now she has all of these plans for what to do if something happens,” she added. “It’s scary it’s come to that point.”

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler.

(45) comments


Great to see these kids stirring discussion my perspective, but anyone can decide what they want to believe in.. I agree that everyone (sane) should be able to own a rifle or handgun for defense .. a rapid fire assault gun is not covered by the constitution , and has nothing to do with defense .. it was engineered to kill many people fast ... many veterans agree w this. In fact one vet said the other day that if any of those marine wannabes want to shoot such a weapon, they should serve the country .. the only people really trained to own this are actually veterans .. if you use a AR15 indoors to shoot at someone, it can kill, cross the wall, and kill someone else on the other side unintentionally . .. and of course, all excuses come in about lower charge ammunition , and co.. facts are that these weapons are being used increasingly to mow down innocent people, so that a few folks feel good about themselves..
In 1963 a big mistake was made when ARmaLite weapon of war (ar15 style) was marketed has a hunting rifle .. because they could not sell it to the army at the time ... weapons kill people ... rapid fire weapons kill more point has nothing to do with taking All weapons away from people, which is a sorry excuse I think to not talk about the subject from the heart, instead of being all angry and stuff :), from the mind . There is no sane argument these days to have every lost soul under the sun owning a an assault weapon of war for civilian life... and that’s why we need legislation .. we have race tracks to race cars and bikes, why should it be different for this? these assault weapons should only be available on shooting ranges I think, or owned by people that have been screened and psych evaluated veterans .. the others should have special certificate to own assault weapon.. I think people are failing to keep up with the times.. the Gov has tanks, jets, RPGs.. if they wanted to take over, they, the militia deal evolved into national guard , so that is outdated talk too.. future of human kind is interplanetary life I think.. besides, at this pace we will keep killing each other enough here in the US , and it sets up a bad example , and such .. people in other countries laugh at this carnage... and they are like : Wow: you Guys have huge fun problem w murders all over, so you are not a good example.. you are a bad example w money now... it used to be different , but it’s not anymore... so these kids deserve paid vacations to make grown ups talk about stuff that they should be talking about anyway, as responsible adults .. ..maybe yes, maybe not.. I can be wrong, doing nothing is insanity, and since the responsible grown ups can’t get it done, I am happy for these youngsters bullet stops a threat. No need to have thirty bullets .. or one should check their aim like the vet said very well. Again, this has nothing to do to take all your guns away ... that is an excuse to not get engaged and compromise... what’s next ? Mini Gatling gun on back of the truck mounted? And we all know you are Very responsible, right? But one day that lost soul cousin of your came a visited you , and he had a bunch of mental illness issues, and he actually owned several rapid fire weapons .. he was upset with something ...and he stopped at the restaurant , and started shooting blindly .. you were lucky not to be there... and that was that ... so thank you kids, for trying to avoid catastrophic issues like I just described ... this is reality , I hope I am not offending anyone .. my words are not meant to do that..


I totally agree with and applaud these students for speaking out. However, as a member of one of downtown Frederick's houses of worship, I wondered why they chose to write on the churches' property? At our church (and probably most of the churches downtown) we are in TOTAL agreement with the students' opinion on the need for more effective gun laws and the inequality of what groups are effected most by gun violence. You are literally "preaching to the choir"! Next time maybe they should write on the main streets downtown for ALL to see....not the people who are already "on board" with their plight to reduce and, maybe, end gun violence....just sayin'... :) Peace everyone...




Instead of applauding these young peoples fortitude to stand up and say no more, the discussion turns to race - which seems to occur quite frequently with some in this crowd. Do you guys realize they all bleed red - and they are kids? Probably gonna hear from the aforementioned group, but not everything in life is about building a wall, exploiting differences, and promoting division. Just sayin.


It is pretty amusing to watch the people deflect with "yes but" arguments. That is a classic dodge in a logical discussion and indicates they don't want to, or are unable to, have a logical discussion. When kids walked out of school the right said "why don't they do this in their off hours?" and when people march they say "why don't they do it where it isn't screwing up other peoples' commute" so when these kids use chalk WITH PERMISSION to send a message the people still complain. Just admit that these complaints are just made up to disguise your inability to counter their arguments or empathize with their position.


Great job Sydney and Hannah!!!!! Keep it up!!!


They should add the number of shootings from Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, DC to their list.....................


More kids are dying from drunk driving, drug abuse - (greater number of opioid deaths than by firearms), texting while driving, and by other 'assault' weapons as defined by reality.
It is nice to see how these protests raise awareness about the Left's infiltration of these young people -


P4, Out of all attempted suicides firearms are far more likely to be fatal. According to Harvard Public Health “About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death. (Drug overdose, the most widely used method in suicide attempts, is fatal in less than 3 percent of cases.) Moreover, guns are an irreversible solution to what is often a passing crisis.” Over 20,000 Americans committed suicide with guns last year.


Tell me Pedro, exactly how did the "left" infiltrate kids from schools in Frederick County MD and tell them cover tell them to write their objections to gun violence in playground chalk on church steps?? Seems to me that the NRA is the one infiltrating people's minds with lies, i.e. "pro gun control people want to ban all guns and repeal the Second Amendment". "Pro gun control people are Communists, atheists, and bad parents." " The answer to gun violence is a good guy with a gun", on and on ad nauseam.


Brainwashed kids should be charged with vandalism. What about the kids that support the Second Amendment?


How can it be considered vandalism if they have the permission of the churches?


Brainwashed adults should be charged with tunnel vision, secpol


[thumbup] Wheel!


secpol apparently didn't bother to read the article before commenting. Or perhaps he/she has a reading comprehension problem. Perhaps you should go back to school?


I applaud these young folks! Sadly some of the commenters don't get it! All lives will matter when black lives matter!


Whats race have to do with this? Not a thing.


Ask CD? He introduced it!


How did I introduce what was already printed in the article, vicky?


I wonder why it is that black kids are 10 times more likely to die by gun violence than white kids?


It’s good to hear CDReid take the lead in bring up this tragic issue. I never would have thought he cared.
Every day, 19 children are shot in America, according to a recent study. Nearly 1,300 kids under the age of 18 die every year from gunshot wounds, and almost 6,000 go to the hospital for non-fatal firearm injuries. About 400 black children under the age of 18 are thought to be killed in firearm homicides each year. Where as white children are much more likely to commit suicide.


White kids raised by parents that align with today's leftist and progressive thinking have higher suicide rates overall -- many just can' seem to cope even with the meds they are prescribed to 'control' their behavior.

So -- white kids are more likely to commit suicide (without a firearm) than black kids (or is it kids of color?)


Your comment is so appropriate for 420! Carry the legacy on pforpres. lol.


The first two comments tell a story. This will not be well received by many. Maybe the names should be written on the steps of the Board of Education. Hopefully the churches receive these acts with Grace.


As a follow-up. Ms. Weller's column on hope had an interesting observation: " At one time our expectations of behavior included kindness, compassion, honesty, helpfulness, hard work and strength of character. These attributes were not only our expectations, they were frequently if not always in evidence not only in ourselves but in others, including our leaders in government" One might ask:What has changed? Another letter from a school board candidate seeks to address the opioid epidemic by more education. Has that worked? Maybe the three pieces reveal an underlying problem in our society. Maybe "hope" should be brought back into our educational culture.


So, what do you think has changed?


[thumbdown] Maybe we can keep the guns and ban the killers ;)


over 3,500 police officers have been murdered in the US since i first pinned on the badge. think you can find one or two names and add them to your list...


It’s tragic when anyone loses their life to gun violence, however, 1) this protest isn’t about the police 2) when a police officer puts on the uniform, that’s a risk they are choosing to take 3) this is about kids continuing to be massacred by guns at school.


Mass shootings are on the decline since the 70's.


Can you show a source for that gdunn? Thanks


Mass shootings are up sharply since 2000 according to FBI statistics


Since you're in to statistics, Police Officers are not even in the top 10 of dangerous professions. I worked in construction and my profession was more dangerous as are many others! The most dangerous job is being Black!


hahaha. More blacks die in gun violence at the hands of another black person... and that's a fact. Let's talk about black on black gun crimes.


Why do we have to repeatedly point out that more whites die at the hands of another white person, too? In fact, more white males commit murder in this country by far than illegal immigrants or muslim terrorists so let's talk about white on white gun crimes instead of "build the wall" and "this is a Christian country"?


Okay, good. I’m glad you realize their lives matter too. Let’s start the conversation.


Oh, I wouldn’t want to exclude whites from the conversation since we’re all human beings, and not include white on white gun violence. Right? They’re people too. Would you?


More white males commit murder in this country by far than illegal immigrants or Muslim terrorists, shiftless? Ummm, that couldn't be because there are FAR MORE white males in this country than there are illegals and terrorists, could it? Just guessing.....


Black on black and white on white take place because of years of racial discrimination and segregation on the basis of economy.


Especially for black babies, huh vicky? "In the United States, the abortion rate for Black women is almost 4 times that of White women. On average, 900 Black babies are aborted every day in the United States."


As reported by the Michigan Right to Life Org. And how do you feel about black women terminating their pregnancy, CD Reid? And what does that have to do with gun violence? Are they using guns as a means.


aw, I couldn't care less about black women getting abortions, my comment was a response to vicky's "The most dangerous job is being Black!" that's all. Don't make it what it wasn't.




CD, CD, CD you seem to be infatuated with black social issues. The article was about student protest about gun violence. But you always seem to bring up blacks in your comments. Are you black or as P4 puts it, of color? Or simply ...?


awteam, CD is white lives in Thurmont where I used to live. Got that okkk

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