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In order to keep the issue of assault weapons fresh in the minds of voters going into the November mid-term elections, we will create a demonstration movement among high school and college students in which they observe two minutes of silence, starting at 11:32 a.m. every Friday, for the six weeks preceding those elections. So named because that is the time when the school shooter in Uvalde, Texas is reported to have opened fire, we call our movement “11:32.”
11:32 is premised on our belief that if we can reduce the potential body count at mass shootings, shooters in search of notoriety would have less of an incentive. This aspect of the gun problem can only be addressed by reducing the lethality of their weaponry. Therefore, the main reform being pursued by 11:32 is the banning of the assault weapons and high capacity magazines that enable these shooters to fire hundreds of round in a matter of seconds, with devastating effect. Weapons of war belong on the battlefield, not in the hands of civilians.
In the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the legislature of that state defied the gun lobby in passing some modest reforms. Similarly, the more recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas broke the legislative logjam at the federal level, again resulting in a bill signed into law by President Biden that involved only modest changes to our gun laws. Little else has had any legislative effect, and this suggests that the gun lobby’s biggest vulnerability could be the threat posed to the nation’s schools.
In contrast to the stand-alone events (such as marches and rallies) that tend to characterize the aftermath of a notorious mass shooting, what we propose is to build a movement. With regard to the high school and college students that we would have lead it, we are mindful that we thereby involve them in activity that is normally the province of adults. Recalling another movement, however, it was students sitting down at those lunch counters. Those were students climbing aboard buses headed south to become Freedom Riders. Student activism was also critical in bringing an end to the Vietnam War.
Here, we look beyond our colleges to greatly involve high school students because they are directly affected by the threat of assault weapons. With many of them knowing some troubled classmate who should not be allowed one of these weapons of war, they have to be more than mere poster children for this effort. They too must act.
The shooter in Uvalde is reported to have opened fire at 11:32 a.m. It was a Friday. Hence, our movement will involve student demonstrations consisting of just two minutes of silence, every Friday starting at 11:32 a.m. and continuing until Election Day. Arms interlocked as a symbol of unity, “11:32” will be our silent battle cry demanding an end to this insanity.
In order to minimize (1) the disruption of its educational program, (2) the difficulty of moving large numbers of students outside and then back into the building, and (3) (unfortunately it has come to this) the potential target being presented to any aspiring shooter, the vast majority of any school’s student body would participate from within their classrooms. Just 50 to 100 student leaders would take part in front of their school, donning 11:32 signs, caps, and t-shirts; the objective here being to create a media event, complete with photo op. Then they too return to class. Though slightly different from the one we shall employ on college campuses, this is our basic model.
- Its community having been the most recent scene of a notorious mass shooting, not only is Highland Park High School a logical place to start, its school administration shows signs of being supportive. Its first demonstration would be on October 7th.
- To ensure momentum in the second week (October 14th), we will have been working with no fewer than nine other high schools so that students there are poised to join in. These could include schools in Uvalde, Texas; Parkland, Florida; and Columbine, Colorado where mass school shootings have actually taken place; together with other North Shore and Chicago high schools.
- In the third week (October 21st), we expand the movement to include students on the campuses of three universities.
- Utilizing both social and conventional media, we shall have relentlessly been calling for every school in America to join in. By the fourth week (October 28th), if we are successful, the 11:32 movement will have spread throughout the country.
High Schools. Our approach here is premised on the belief that in every high school, there are student leaders who need only be recruited and given adequate support, after which they will secure the widespread participation of their classmates. In every school, we start by gaining the assent of its educators. School administrators are constrained in their ability to do much more than allow the demonstrations to take place, but a supportive administration can nevertheless help us identify four or five of its students who possess the necessary initiative and leadership skills. After also gaining the assent of their parents, we provide those student leaders with social media support, fliers, and a sufficient number of 11:32 caps and/or t-shirts (“11:32 gear”) . . . and then it’s on to the next school.
Universities. We begin by identifying and then connecting with the leaders of key campus organizations at Loyola and Northwestern universities, asking them to host organizing meetings. Then we post fliers throughout campus, inviting interested students to attend. Here again, we rely upon the emergence of student leaders who will help spread the word to their classmates via social media, word of mouth, and other means. Rather than have most participating students do so from within their classrooms, we want college students to gather at one conspicuous location for their demonstration. At the organizing meeting, the students can determine where that will be, who will take charge of distributing the 11:32 gear that we provide, and discuss other ways in which they might want to build upon the basic two-minute demonstration, such as with speeches, a march to a second location, or some other activity designed to amplify our message. In addition to Northwestern and Loyola, we shall also organize an 11:32 demonstration at the university that our collegiate Board member attends.
Gen-Z for Change. This non-profit advocacy organization, run by high school and college students, leverages social media to promote political action among the young people of “Generation Z.” At present, they are very active in providing social media support for progressive causes, including reproductive rights, unionization, and reducing gun violence. Claiming more than 500 content creators who have a combined 540 million followers, they could be extremely helpful in spreading the word via social media.
Influencers. Our cause is capable of winning the support of professional athletes, musicians, and other celebrities, some of whom have already spoken out against assault weapons. If they are seen wearing 11:32 caps, for example, many of their fans and followers may begin doing so as well. Therefore, the recruitment of such influencers is one of our major objectives.
Social Media. We shall aggressively use social media to spread the word about 11:32. Our first ads will likely feature variations of the video at the top of this webpage. With professional help in its recrafting, we believe this could be a powerful publicity and recruitment tool. Then as 11:32 demonstrations begin taking place, our ads will feature influencers (such as those just described) issuing the call for more schools to join in.
11:32 Gear. We want to make the term “11:32” virtually synonymous with the cause of banning assault weapons. When someone is first confronted with it, “11:32” begs the question of what it means. The answer (that this is the time when the Uvalde school shooting began) then leads quite naturally to a conversation about America’s need to ban this kind of weaponry. We shall outfit some number of our student leaders in 11:32 gear at the demonstrations taking place at their schools. Shortly after the demonstrations begin, however, we will start selling 11:32 caps, at or near cost, to students and any adults who will buy them, but not just for themselves. We shall ask people to support this effort by buying as many caps as they can, that they might be given away to family and friends. Every head wearing an 11:32 cap is a walking billboard for our movement.
Student Directors. A student movement should have students leading it. So the adult members of our Board will be joined by an equal number of students: one from Highland Park High School; one or more from other participating high schools; and one who has already been active at his college on the issue of gun violence. We shall carefully select our collegiate member, as his will be the face of 11:32.
Ken McNeil – Chief Organizer
When the Illinois Supreme Court declared a major school governance law unconstitutional, he developed the new election format subsequently signed into law. As General Counsel and Special Assistant for Education, Ken was the Lieutenant Governor’s chief legal adviser while also serving as liaison with the Chicago school reform movement. As Executive Director of the CityWide Coalition for School Reform, he developed a program utilizing schools to register voters and another that took more than 900 Chicago schoolchildren to Springfield to help lobby the General Assembly for more school funding. A former Captain in the U.S. Army and a graduate of Harvard Law School, Ken also holds Master and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree from Penn’s Wharton School.
Michael Hyatt – Organizer
Mike has more than twenty years of experience in the development of educational programming and its delivery to students at the middle school, high school, and college level. At the Chicago Urban League, he developed and coordinated its Mathletics Cross-Age Tutorial Project while also coordinating the Math Counts program for 16 under-achieving high schools. At Loyola University (Chicago), he directed program and project managers for the National Science Foundation’s Access 2000 Chicago Partnership to support minorities and women in their pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Mike holds a Master of Arts degree in Social Work, Policy, and Administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois.
Kevin Lamm – Board President
Kevin has over thirty years of activism in Chicago and Cook County politics, including both issue campaigns such as that to bring “motor voter” registration to Illinois and campaigns to elect US Senator Paul Simon, State Senator Miguel del Valle, Cook County Clerk David Orr, and Chicago Aldermen Rey Colón and Millie Santiago. At various times the Chief of Staff for two aldermen, a state representative and a county commissioner, he has also served as State Chairman of Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organizations and Chairman of the Brentano Math and Science Academy Local School Council. After six years in the Submarine Service of the U.S. Navy, Kevin attended the University of Illinois at Chicago.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT KEN McNEIL AT email@example.com or call him at 773-562-5678.