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‘We’re fighting for the future’: East High School students march against violence at Colorado State Capitol

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Posted at 11:24 AM, Mar 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 13:24:52-04

DENVER — Two days after police said an East High School student shot two administrators during a routine search, students once again marched at the Colorado State Capitol to speak out against gun violence.

Wednesday’s shooting was the latest in a string of violent incidents at East High School.

“It’s a never-ending spiral,” student Mateo Tullar told Denver7’s Bayan Wang on the capitol steps.

He said he and his peers are “desensitized” to the violence on and near campus over the last several months.

A junior at the school was injured in a September shooting at the nearby Carla Madison Recreation Center. A “swatting” threat was made at the school days later. A February shooting ultimately took the life of 16-year-old East High student Luis Garcia.

Friday was supposed to be a mental health day – one that was granted to all Denver Public Schools students and faculty at a board meeting Thursday. But Tullar said it didn’t feel like a day for healing.

'We're here to fight for the future': East HS students march against violence

“It’s disgusting that we have to be here to do this,” he said. “We’re here to fight for the future.”

“We want action, not words,” said Ali Sittiseri, a member of the group Students Demand Action. “You can keep promising that you’re going to make change, but we’re not going to believe it until we see it.”

Friday’s march wasn’t the first time East students went to the capitol to make their voices heard. Earlier this month, in the days following Garcia’s death, students walked out of school to advocate for gun reform legislation at the capitol.

Earlier in the legislative session, Democratic lawmakers had unveiled a series of bills that would add more regulations around the purchase and possession of firearms in Colorado.

Sittiseri said she and her constituents were there again Friday in support of four such bills.

Tullar was also critical of DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero after the district reinstated school resource officers at DPS comprehensive high schools for the remainder of the year and pledged to devise a long-term safety plan between now and June 30.

Tullar said the response feels “thrown at” the problem.

“This just feels like something he’s doing just to say he’s doing something,” Tullar. “He’s treating this from a very political sense when it really needs to be about human health and life.”