Parkland students to hold town hall in Naperville
Students who survived a Feb. 14 mass shooting at their Florida high school and channeled their grief into activism for stricter gun-control laws will hold a town-hall meeting in Naperville this month.
The event is set for 6 p.m. June 16 at the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church and reflects the church's commitment to reducing gun violence, the Rev. Tom Capo said.
Seventeen people were gunned down by a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Survivors who have organized rallies and advocated for gun reforms announced Monday they would crisscross the U.S. to spread their message and register young voters.
One of the Parkland students reached out to Lisle activist Jax West after West organized a March for Our Lives event this spring and later a town hall to protest gun violence.
The student emailed West and "asked if I would like to do an event with them when they came to town in mid-June. I said 'absolutely,' and it has evolved from that," West said.
The students' "Road to Change" bus tour will stop in Chicago June 15 for a peace march with teenagers from St. Sabina Academy. It then will move to the suburbs with the town hall in Naperville and a car wash/fundraiser with some students from Downers Grove North High School, West said.
Church leaders aimed to heal divisiveness by opening up their Naperville building as a neutral space for community groups, Capo said. He met West through an activism expo she organized at the church, and she suggested DuPage Unitarian Universalist as a good facility for the Parkland students.
Capo, who is a member of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, said there's great concern about the effects of mass shootings on people's sensitivity to the sanctity of life.
"Our concern is that what's happening to people in our society is they become numb to violence," he said. "They say, 'Oh, it's happening again,' and don't feel pain and sadness and grief," when another school shooting occurs. "Once that happens society begins to erode."
To learn more about the town hall, go to www.eventbrite.com/e/mfol-road-to-change-town-hall-tickets-46732926441. For directions and information about the church, go to www.dupageuuchurch.org/.