by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Staff Reporter
The issue of gun violence has long been a vital, yet mournful issue throughout the area of Chicago. Thus, Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church decided to rally and advocate for gun control laws to be implemented in order to help end the epidemic spreading across the nation. Along with felllow Chicagoans, he bused to the Washington D.C. Capitol building, so the hashtag #EndGunViolence would speak to the hearts of hundreds of tearful souls.
On Sept. 24 at roughly 6:30 p.m., activists and community members met at St. Sabina Church in the south side neighborhood of Englewood and departed on a 12-hour bus ride to the nation’s capital. From there, major national players like Father Pfleger and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rallied with victims, mothers of survivors and simply people who were tired of gun violence ruining their neighborhoods.
The rally took place on Sept. 25 at the U.S. Capitol Building’s West Lawn. Prominent national players spoke fiercely to the government about adding universal background checks, increased gun licensing and the banning of assault weapons. Since almost 70 percent of Americans are in favor of these strict gun laws to be enforced, protestors hoped they would be successful in their attempt to end gun violence.
Roosevelt University’s journalism 220 class was invited to cover the events of the rally and make the long journey to D.C. with other members of the Chicago community. A total of 13 students were able to enhance their journalistic abilities, and get a first look into the life of a real reporter.
“I knew I had to take my students because this is the kind of opportunity you can not replicate in a classroom,” said John Fountain, professor of journalism and former New York Times journalist.
Fountain helped students by facilitating interviews and giving ideas about capturing the scene and perspective of each story at the rally.
“I hope that students will immerse themselves and come back here different than when they left,” he said. “I want students to grow and learn.”
He also spoke about his feelings towards the gun violence that is seen in the Chicago communities.
While there, Fountain praised Father Pfleger’s commitment to protesting gun violence. “I do not think there is a greater human atrocity than denying people the ability to live,” said Fountain. “One of my greatest fears growing up in the West Side of Chicago was this fear of invisibility…when they do not see you as a human, they dismiss you.”
Steve Schapiro, 85, a renowned photographer who participated in the civil rights movement of the 60s, also spoke about his feelings towards gun violence. “The problem of gun violence is one of the major problems we have at this time.”
Schapiro, an inspirational figure, would also not let his age stop him from partaking in his activism work. He explained that he was determined to capture a picture that would portray the essence of the rally.
“The main thing is we have lost our sense of human life,” said Schapiro. “If we could really get back a voice, such as Pfleger’s, it could help end this issue.”
Schapiro referred to the youth by stating that it wasn’t his world anymore, so it is a question of the youth to “work and find a solution” towards gun violence.
Ari Castillo, a junior at Roosevelt University, also spoke about his excitement of covering the rally as a student journalist.
“To be able to come together with this community in such an important location and advocate for the rights of people who have been fighting for gun control at the cost of their loved ones is super important,” stated Castillo.
“We want to make sure that we’re sensitive to the people and we’re recognizing that they’re here out of unfortunate circumstances,” said Castillo. “Being able to articulate their heavy and sorrowful message is challenging and emotional, but I was lucky to cover their stories and have this opportunity.”