Stand for the Second


Sophomores Bonifacio Yuzon (left) and Tanner Watts (right) organized the walkout at Tigard High.

By James Favot, News Editor

The upcoming walkout this Wednesday will mark the third time students at Tigard High take a stand for political action. This protest, however, has a different approach to the gun control issue. The “Stand for the Second” walkout on May 2 provides students an opportunity to voice their opposition to gun legislation and gun ban proposals.

The idea for a national “counter-walkout” came from Will Riley, a Carlsbad High senior in New Mexico. Riley has been actively involved in politics for the last two years, even doing volunteer work for the 2016 presidential election. According to Riley, the media’s coverage of previous walkouts has disproportionately represented the amount of students who support gun control.

He also observed the rising popularity of school walkouts and the impact they are making nationwide. “A walkout is louder and more unconventional than an after-school rally—but that’s good,” Riley said in an interview for The Paw. “It means that it’s more likely that our voice is heard.” For these reasons, Riley chose to organize a walkout that would stand out from the others by challenging the calls for gun legislation that were made in the walkouts of March and April.

Riley created a website and launched a social media campaign under the hashtag “StandForTheSecond” that quickly went viral on Instagram and Twitter. His message emphasized pushing against gun legislation and fighting to protect all Constitutional rights, not just the Second Amendment. “This issue is not about me getting to keep guns,” Riley said. “It’s about a battle for all of the unalienable rights our country was founded on.”

Riley also specifically set this walkout to be 16 minutes long, one minute less than the past two walkouts. He claims this is a symbolic decision to show that he doesn’t want his protest to disrupt schools as boisterously as the previous walkouts did. “We simply want to have our voices heard,” Riley said. His bold methods were rather effective at rallying like-minded individuals. Now, students from more than 200 schools—including Tigard High—are currently planning to participate in the walkout.

Sophomore Bonifacio Yuzon was inspired by Riley’s movement to head the walkout at Tigard. His walkout will also be 16 minutes long in accordance with Riley’s request. “I don’t know how disruptive walkouts here have been and I’m sure that it’s quite different across the nation, but I’m just looking for a parallel,” Yuzon said. “I’m not looking to be better than anyone else.” Like Riley, Yuzon believes that he and gun rights supporters across the nation deserve the same platform of protest that has now twice been given to gun control activists.

Yuzon’s protest will still be based on the undertone of protecting gun rights, but he also hopes to promote the idea that gun violence is more of a societal issue than an issue regarding availability of weapons. “It’s definitely worth noting that high-powered weapons have always been available to the American people,” Yuzon said. “Only recently have school shootings started to become very prevalent.” He thinks more should be done to look into mental health issues and the effects of modern culture on adolescent minds. Yuzon also suggests legislators should focus on alternate methods to increase safety in schools rather than banning guns.

Yuzon notified Principal Andy Van Fleet prior to announcing the walkout. In an interview, Van Fleet shared his thoughts on the growing number of student-led walkouts held during school hours. “Any time you walk out of a classroom, people wonder, does this meet the threshold that we need to be doing that?” Van Fleet said. Though he acknowledges all students’ freedom of speech, he also hopes to make clear that the administration does not approve of walkouts and, in fact, discourages them.

Van Fleet is particularly concerned with the controversy that may arise over the idea that this new walkout is meant to “counter” the others, especially since the earlier walkouts were not just about gun legislation but about solidarity and school safety as well. “If this is in retaliation or a response to [the previous walkout], my concern is that other students will look at the Second Amendment walkout as anti-school safety, and that’s problematic,” Van Fleet said.

Overall, Van Fleet supports the recent trend of student-led political activism. “I am glad that students are having these thoughts and are engaged in[…] political action,” he said. “[But] if there’s a better way to convey your message, we should do it that way.” He advises students to hold future protests outside of school hours and to bring a unique, meaningful message each time.

When asked why he believes students should get involved in political matters, Riley quoted the ancient Athenian leader Pericles. “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you,” Riley said. While he admits the quote is very old, he firmly believes its meaning holds true to this day—politics will impact your life, whether you involve yourself with it or not. Riley and Yuzon agree that a protest to protect a freedom one already has is just as necessary and valid as a protest for change. No matter what side of the political spectrum you align with, it’s important to defend your beliefs but also to recognize everyone’s voice in the big picture.