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East High School students demand action on gun violence, school safety at Denver City Council meeting

Luis Garcia, a 16-year-old East High student, remains in intensive care after he was shot near the school last week.
East High School students speak before Denver City Council
Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 00:15:10-05

DENVER — A group of East High School students attended a Denver City Council meeting Tuesday to demand action on gun violence and school safety.

Several were soccer teammates of Luis Garcia, a 16-year-old East High student who is in intensive care after being shot near the school last week.

“Gun violence in schools is not going to be accepted anymore,” senior Zeke Lubin told the council. “We’re scared and horrified of these actions, but we’re not shocked by gun violence anymore.”

“We’re scared,” junior Mateo Tullar added. “We don’t want to be at school. We don’t feel safe there. It’s not okay. These things need to change.”

Both Lubin and Tullar are teammates of Garcia, and say it’s been a tough week for the team and the entire school.

Students are trying to be there for each other and the Garcia family while also processing their own emotions and fear — all while trying to manage classes and school work.

“It’s definitely weird,” Lubin told Denver7. “Like, it’s been kind of hard to focus in class with kind of the, you know, everything going on in the back of my mind.”

RELATED: 'He's a fighter': Family of 16-year-old shot near East High School speaks days after shooting

Gun violence has hit the East High community twice just this school year, and lockdown drills have become routine parts of the school day, according to the students. They hope that by sharing the anxiety publicly, leaders will be pushed to concrete actions.

Specifically, the students are calling for enhanced cameras and security measures, school resource officers, and limited access to campus during school hours to start, Tullar said.

“We really challenge you guys to do stuff about this, because we have no power in the situation,” he told the council. “We are the ones that have to comply, and we have to go to school, and we aren’t able to do anything to defend ourselves. So, we need help.”

The students have wasted no time working to help Garcia’s family, in the meantime. They have created red wristbands, each adorned with Luis’s jersey number of 11 and the phrase “End Gun Violence,” and will begin selling them throughout the community to raise money for the family.

A separate GoFundMe has already raised more than $160,000, with a goal of $400,000 to help with medical expenses.

“When it happens to someone so close to you, it really puts things in perspective,” Lubin said. “We’ve become inspired to come here and instill change.”

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