Atlanta student-organized rally calls for an end to gun violence

Students, educators, and city leaders rallied outside Atlanta City Hall on Thursday evening calling for an end to gun violence. They specifically want to end the shootings which recently claimed the lives of young people in Atlanta.

The rally happened as the shooting deaths of 12-year-old Zyion Charles and 15-year-old Cameron Jackson on the 17th Street Bridge was still fresh in everyone’s minds.

They called it "Stand with Me." It was fully student organized by teens who are tired of seeing their classmates gunned down.

"We are losing people younger and younger. It’s imperative students speak up to make a change," said student Eleanor Jones.

Jones, who is a senior at Drew Charter School, was one of the organizers of the rally.

"Gun violence is a pressing issue in Atlanta," Jones said.

Jones decided to take action after Charles, Jackson, and four other teens were shot on Nov. 26 near Atlantic Station in what police describe as a gang-related altercation.

"I was horrified," Jones said. "It scared me, especially to hear a middle schooler, a 12-year-old boy, his life was cut short. He will never be able to graduate high school, he’ll never be able to get married, to start his family because his life was cut short by senseless gun violence."

"It is the pain, the hurt, the grief, and it is the question we do together to stop the gun violence," said Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring.

Herring says she is working to ensure students feel safe and valued as they learn.

"We work to have relationships with our scholars. It starts with relationships, with children having a sense of belonging, sense of identity and never feeling a sense of isolation," Herring said.

Those who attended the rally say they want sensible gun legislation enacted.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who also attended, says he will call for accountability from the entire community, from families to leaders, to try to work towards a solution.