Local students gather at state capitol, make plea for an end to gun violence

The faces of victims of gun violence were held tight by students and loved ones on the steps of the state capitol.

“I’ve had a friend that’s been shot multiple times and family members who have been shot and killed,” said Kyaire Brown-Hatcher, a senior at Penn Hills High School.

The violence continues to touch and impact the youth of our area.

“Haunted Hills hay rides there are special effects, but nobody thought somebody got shot, then I turned over and the dude is just there, laid out, had got shot,” said Che Hawkins, a Clairton City sophomore.

Hawkins witnessed the chaos and death of a Steven Eason, a Central Catholic student who was shot in 2021. He said the experience has changed him and because of that, he wanted to make the trip to Harrisburg.

Together, his classmates, along with Woodland Hills and Penn Hills students, listened and felt the pain of survivors who shared their stories.

“My family is very strong and stuck together, and I don’t want to see that fall apart due to gun violence,” said Xavier Weisenz, a Woodland Hills freshman.

The rally is only the beginning. It comes as the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee is holding its first discussion in more than a decade on laws related to guns. The students listened to their own local leaders testify, including Woodland Hills Superintendent Daniel Castagna and Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker.

“It’s detrimental. If we could do more things like this and have the community wrap around us and this problem. I think we can change it, it can change,” said Carter Lance, a Penn Hills junior.

Now inspired by the journey, these kids hope to use this experience to make a change back in their own communities.

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