Central PA's LGBT News Source

Hundreds turned out in Harrisburg

Fighting for our lives - what was once safe is not

Posted

The March 24 Harrisburg March for Our Lives rally, one of 800+ events held worldwide, drew several hundred gun-control advocates, including one whose home-made sign said “Gays Against Guns”. When it happened, the Pulse nighclub shooting had been the worst active-shooter incident on record.

After speaking on the steps of the State Capitol, 17-year old Eamonn Wrightstone tells The Central Voice his future plans include studying cinema and filmmaking. But right now he’s focused on social justice. “I do a lot of social justice work at my school and in the community. I work with the Community Responders Network and the YWCA, two great and incredible organizations,” he says.

He also works on gun control because it affects his life.

“School shootings are no longer a rarity, they are common-place. We currently average 1.5 a week,” Wrightstone explains. Although he has never experienced a shooting, and is grateful he hasn’t, “that doesn’t mean school shootings don’t negatively impact students’ sense of security in their own schools.”

He says walking into school the day after a shooting prompts students to wonder Am I next? “It’s time we protect the students and children of this country. People are dying on the streets, kids are being shot in school, this is an issue,” Wrightstone says.

For him, gun control is not a Democrat or Republican issue, rather “a life or death issue”. When he saw Parkland students speaking out and fighting back, he wanted to “get involved myself. It felt as a student, it was my responsibility to get involved.”

Wrightstone understands the tensions that can lead to social justice tensions.

“As a bi-racial person (African-American), who appears white, I benefit from white privilege just as much as I have experienced racism,” Wrightstone says.

Racial disparity definitely exists, he insists. If the Parkland shooting happened at an all-black school, how would the story change, he asks.

“Parkland has a very high percentage of white students. I recognize there has been quite a lot of debate surrounding why a group of white teenagers is listened to when black teenagers, who have been fighting for “Black Lives Matter” and gun reform for years, are ignored and given way less attention,” Wrightstone posits.

“I am grateful Parkland students recognize racial disparity exists and are using their white privilege to further amplify their outcry for social justice, to speak for those who cannot speak or who are simply just ignored,” he says.

“I also recognize it is likely I am listened to more in my social justice work because I appear white, but I want to use that to help speak for those who are ignored or who are paid less attention to due to the color of their skin,” Wrightstone explains.

Social justice work is part of my ethos, Wrightstone says, “so it is incredibly important for me to get out there and speak for what I believe in.”

Editor’s note: Since the March 24 rallies, the YouTube Campus in California was the scene of an active, female shooter who, armed with a pistol, shot her boyfriend, two other people, and then killed herself. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter to offer his “thoughts and prayers” as being “reactive”. “We can’t keep being reactive to this, thinking and praying it won’t happen again at our schools, jobs, or our community spots. It’s beyond time to evolve our policies,” Dorsey tweeted to Trump. Proposals receiving attention are to fund gun-violence research; eliminate “absurd” restrictions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; impose universal background checks; ban high-capacity magazines, and limit firing power on the streets.