Students Speak Out: Protests

Terrier Times Staff

Illustration by MacKenzie Smith

Over the last five months, people across the nation and across the globe have participated in protests of various sizes for multiple causes. The most prominent were in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and were initiated by the death of George Floyd, an African American killed while in police custody. The wave of demonstrations and protests that followed were organized to support the movement and fight against racism and police violence across the country. Students from WSHS were given the opportunity to share their views on protesting as they responded to the following questions:


 

How do you feel about the nationwide and local protests that have happened in the last few months?

 

Have you participated in any protests? Which one(s)? Why?

 

Do you think protesting makes a difference? If so, what issue would you be willing to protest against/for?

 


“I have not participated in any protests. I have shared my opinions to people on how I feel about them. I feel that as long as they are peaceful, they are alright and I support them. But when they transform into riots and looting, I feel like that’s outlandish and there is no conceivable reason why that should happen. But no matter what happens, no matter how much we fight, there will always be racial injustice in this world. It is just how the world is. It doesn’t matter who you protest, or who you call out. The fact of the matter is that there will always be bad people.” -Boston Williams, Sophomore

 

“I went on a peaceful BLM march months ago that took place at the high school. I participated in it because things need to change. People need to open their eyes and realize that people that have a different skin color are still human. It depends on how much protesting there is. If there are only a couple of protests that happen then no, it won’t make a difference. But if a lot, like the BLM movement, yes. I am willing to fight for BLM and women’s rights.” -Hannah Maiorano, Sophomore

 

“Of course protesting makes a difference, but when it gets to the point that protesting turns to violence, all it does is affect everyone negatively. The Civil Rights Movement was one of the greatest times in history because African Americans peacefully protested, and people saw how wrong law enforcement and government was treating that community. Now, people loot stores, throw smoke bombs and fireworks at the police that are there to make sure they don’t light the city on fire, and violently attack anyone who disagrees with them.” -David Exware, Senior

 

“I participated in two Black Lives Matter protests. One in East Longmeadow and another in West Springfield. I went to these protests because I wanted to support the black community and let them know that I will speak for them too. I think protesting is getting more people to think about topics and bringing issues to light. I think people will ignore issues until it’s the point where it is in their face and people are screaming for help.” -Brenna Bowler, Junior

 

“Yes, I attended a BLM  protest with friends because we also want to participate and speak our minds about the problems. Everyone should participate at least once to see and hear what people have to say from a first person point of view. 

I think it makes a difference because it’s a statement when people, especially day-to-day citizens, start to protest. To me that signals that something is deeply wrong, especially when this took place all over the world. Anything can help, even the smallest statements or actions. I would be protesting for BLM, Climate change, peace, and to be civilized.” -Sara Taloumis, Junior

 

“I am proud of what many people in this country and around the world are doing to help bring justice to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many other people of color. People are trying to make their voices heard, they want to help make a change in this country. People of color have been treated so badly in this country for so many years and it needs to stop. It doesn’t matter the color of people’s skin, we are all people and should be treated equally. I myself am Black and Hispanic, and I have experienced some comments that should have not been said just because of where I come from and the color of my skin. We need these protests to help show the communities and the country that black lives matter, and we need justice. 

Things in this country need to change and that’s why I participated in these protests to help make a change and make my voice heard, and bring justice to people who have been affected. 

Yes, I think protesting makes a difference. Many people come together to help fight for what they believe in and show that they want things to change. I am willing to protest about many things that need to happen in this country. I will protest for women’s rights, black rights, LGBTQ+ rights, etc. Protesting important issues in this country helps people’s voices be heard and shows the country that we want things to change and that they need to change.”  -Ariana Santiago, Sophomore

 

“I think that they were necessary to get justice for what has happened. However, I don’t agree with the violence that people have brought to the protests in cities (fights, burning down stuff, etc). 

I have not participated in any protests. I didn’t because of the whole Covid situation and sometimes some of the protests stood for things I didn’t agree with like defunding the police. I personally think that justice should be served but some of the solutions that people propose aren’t the best ones. 

I think protesting does make a difference. I would be willing to protest against racism, corrupt people in government, women’s rights, and many other issues.” -Jasmine Irizarry, Junior

 

“Although many would find it arbitrary, in our nation’s history, change has not come without protest. In more recent events, cops and the system put in place to protect us has made the minority feel everything but safe- killing children just because they are colored playing with a water gun. It is a needed change for justice, as cops should not get to walk free after they killed a POC, because statistically, a cop who unwarrantably shoots a person of light skin color is more likely to be arrested for manslaughter than the cops who shot Breonna Taylor in her sleep after they came into their home without a warrant, where only one cop was charged for the bullets that missed her chest. That does not seem like a justice system, it seems like a racist system run by those who want to keep the minority quiet because if it wasn’t Kentucky would not have prepared for protests before the announcement of the verdict regarding Breonna Taylor. Destroying cities and rioting is not the way to do it but in the quote of MLK, ‘A riot is the language of the unheard.’”  -Isabella Stephens, Junior

 

“During Covid-19 many things have changed in the world and during the month of July a series of protests broke out nationwide about black lives matter. These protests have been everywhere and many people have attended them and even kids from our school have gone to them and there was even one in West Springfield. But with the good of these protests comes the bad. These protests are not peaceful protests and all they have done so far is make a syrup bottle change the label and a baked beans company change their logo. A couple of months back there was one in West Side, and I get it people in West Springfield wanted to protest about it and say their reasoning about it, but they marched down to the police station in West Springfield where no cop has done anything wrong and sat in front for 30 minutes yelling about the cops. Our cops have not done anything bad or said anything bad to people. Also, these protests have not changed anything about the world that has been going on. If anything, they made Americans feel threatened and scared because if we say anything it’s racist or it’s showing our white privilege. I think people have to wake up and realize if they want to change then they have to change the world one step at a time and that people have gone soft.” -Joseph Ingegneri, Sophomore

 

“The protests are completely necessary. The foundation that America has been built on suffocates everyone, regardless of social status, though the system especially harms the poor, people of color, mentally ill, and LGBT people. The criminal justice system isn’t broken, it’s working exactly the way it was meant to work by oppressing minorities. I believe that defunding the police, dismantling and rebuilding the system is the only way America can become the land of the free.” -Helen Sanders, Freshman

 

“I think that it’s good to make voices be heard, but the way some of the protests have gone isn’t the right way to let your voice be heard. Protests should be non-violent because you don´t know who you’re affecting when you lash out as some people did.

Yes, it makes a difference because it brings attention to the world for what you’re fighting for. An issue I would be willing to protest against for the harsh treatment that women get in different countries. I would want to fight for their protection and their rights.” -Adrienne Valentini, Senior

 

“I feel very empowered by them. Yes I think it makes a difference because people see we have to resort to protesting to get our messages across and these messages are seen. The issue on racism in America is something I will forever be willing to protest about.” Niyonzima Charmantine

 

“I feel that it is very remarkable and even awe-inspiring that so many people have come together to peacefully fight for change. I don’t mean protests that happened simply because they could, like the anti-maskers or the people who protested for gyms to open back up. Especially not the “protestors” who looted and vandalized. I mean the civilized, caring people who took their grievances to the street to march for a better world. They are the ones who are remarkable and awe-inspiring. I think protesting certainly can make a difference, but it unfortunately rarely ever leads to a desirable outcome. I would be willing to protest for pretty much anything I think is wrong.” Kacie Schwarzenbach, Sophomore