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Hundreds protest gun violence, shooting of Ralph Yarl at St. Teresa's Academy Tuesday

St. Teresa's Academy.jpeg
Posted at 12:38 PM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 12:39:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hundreds of students at St. Teresa's Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, held a protest against gun violence late Wednesday morning.

Students at the academy came together to take a lap around the quad, chanting "end gun violence."

"It makes me really proud of our community because we all do support each other no matter our race, and we all just want to make school a safe space," senior Annamarie Hotze said. "Even though we are very lucky to have a great security team and do have a lot of privilege going to this school, not everyone has that."

Senior Riyan Jones told KSHB 41 News that two recent events inspired the student-led protest on the academy's quad — last month's shooting at Covenant School in Nashville that left three students and three staff members dead, and the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl.

Yarl, a Staley High School junior, suffered life-threatening injuries last week in Kansas City after going to the door of the wrong home while trying to pick up his younger siblings. Yarl's family attorney updated Wednesday that the teen is expected to make a full recovery.

"It's disheartening to see we've come so far but we have also taken so many steps back," Jones said. "I hope that we come together as Kansas Citians and we speak against what's going on so that we get justice for that young man, because I think he deserves it."

The school's president Dr. Siabhan May-Washington addressed students at the beginning of the rally.

“You are what’s needed. You are the leaders. You are what the world needs now. This is a call-to-action moment. Enough is enough," she said. "We must end gun violence and mass shootings. Sadly, there are too many, there are so many that we can’t remember to name them all.”

Students told KSHB41 they are beginning to feel numb to the news of shootings, no matter their location.

“It’s just a hard feeling because it happens so often that you kind of become immune to it. I know that’s sad to say,” said senior Sydne Sylvan. “As the younger generation we are starting to make more of a change than the previous generation did. We are not going to sit around and let gun violence effect our generation and the generations to come.”

The protest from St. Teresa's Academy students follows other rallies that have sparked throughout the Kansas City community, including a unity walk held by Yarl's peers at Staley High School Tuesday. Yarl's family joined community members in a rally for justice Sunday outside the home where he was shot, and several organizations protested outside the federal courthouse in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, demanding hate crime charges against Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old man charged with shooting Yarl.

Lester was charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action. He turned himself into custody Tuesday, and was released after posting a $200,00 bond.

There is one common thread throughout the string of protests — support for Yarl and cries for justice.