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200 gather in Killeen to protest gun violence in schools

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As the nation mourns the death of 17 teens shot and killed Feb. 14 at a high school in Parkland, Florida, around 200 demonstrators gathered in Killeen to say “never again” Saturday as part of the national March For Our Lives anti-gun violence rally.

Arranged in rows of five – and bearing signs reading “enough is enough” and “kids are the future” – the demonstrators marched from north to south across the W.S. Young Drive bridge to an outdoor pavilion at the Killeen Community Center.

Marching for our lives

Students, teacher and others join in the March for Our Lives Protest in Killeen March 24, 2018.

The event, coordinated by the Bell County Democratic Party and the Killeen chapter of the NAACP, had two student speakers, as well as Chris Rosenberg, chairwoman of the county Democratic Party, and TaNeika Driver-Moultrie, executive committee member of the local NAACP.

Dakota Widenor, 18, a student at Shoemaker High School, gave a fiery speech in front of the demonstrators, saying he had been touched by the loss of two friends to gun violence.

Demand Action

Shoemaker Student Dakota Widenor is seen chanting and raising a sign during the March for Our Lives gun reform protest in Killeen Saturday, March 24, 2018.

“We are marching not because we want to take away guns, we are marching because we want to feel safe in our own communities,” he said. “For the sake of our lives, we must join the rest of the world in enacting sensible gun violence prevention legislation. We do not advocate for the banning of all firearms. We understand that it is people who kill people, which is why we want to keep those who are unhinged, violent and irresponsible from owning weapons and using them to kill us. Is that such a difficult request?”

Widenor called for a range of new legislation, including a national firearm registry, universal background checks and the placement of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on the list of weapons banned for civilian purchase.

“We call upon you Texas lawmakers to listen now and listen well,” Widenor said. “If you do not enact these measures by November, you will be voted out in favor of someone who can.”

Following the Parkland shooting in February, a debate in Charlotte Prymer’s history class at Ellison High inspired her to want to hold a protest.

KISD March 1.jpg

A small but vocal group marched south on W.S. Young Drive as part of the national March for Our Lives event Saturday afternoon.

“Then I heard that this one was already being organized so I brought her along with me,” Prymer said of inviting her friend, Annjessica Simmons-McRae, a student at Killeen school district’s Early College High School.

Two Democrats in a May 22 runoff election for the Congressional District 25 nomination, Julie Oliver and Chris Perri, were among the marchers Saturday. District 25 encompasses an area including western Austin, Coryell County and parts of west Killeen.

Oliver, an Austin attorney and health care advocate, said the march would hopefully act as an impetus for meaningful gun control legislation.

“It’s going to be these kids that change everything going forward,” Oliver said. “I am so inspired and excited that we came here and participated. We have still got to work legislatively, but these kids are going to make sure there is change in the future.”

As the teens spoke, a group of around 40 counterprotesters gathered around 30 yards away with “Don’t Tread On Me” flags and signs encouraging teaching students the U.S. Constitution.

Standing for a cause

CJ Grisham stands armed with Marching for Our Lives protesters seen behind him, during an counter protest by Open Carry Texas group at the March for Our Lives protest march in Killeen Saturday, March 24 2018.

C.J. Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas and leader of the counterprotesters, said his group supported an end to gun violence in schools but wanted to present different options than tighter gun restrictions.

“They’re blaming a failure in government on gun laws,” Grisham said. “It wasn’t gun laws that failed those kids (at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland) — it’s the government that’s failing those kids.”

Among the measures the group called for was the end of “gun-free zones” on school campuses, allowing teachers to arm themselves as a deterrent to school shootings and making schools “harder targets” for potential shooters.

“This (march) is a result of the liberalization of our school system,” Grisham said. “Our kids are being brainwashed into thinking this is how you solve issues by banning guns. They’re taking over our education system, and now they’re weaponizing our children against liberty.”

Widenor said he respected the counterprotesters exercising their rights, asked them to join the movement to help end gun violence — and offered a warning.

“If you want to secure the life of our children, then please join us in the fight to end gun violence,” Widenor said. “But if you try to intimidate us, if you think that we are merely meek students who will be turned away by your voices then you are dead wrong.”

Herald Reporter Felisa Cardenas contributed to this report. | 254-501-7567

(18) comments


"I ask, sir, what is The Militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them." -George Mason


This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@savykatt: I beg to differ with your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

Please read the words that are offered in the article above.

Also, please note the following:

Copy: 'From

The Federalist Papers #46
James Madison
The Influence of the State and Federal Governments Compared
New York Packet, Jan. 29, 1788

These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone, and that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expense of the other.' End of copy.

Now I don't want to copy the entire contents of the Federalists Papers, but do intend to dispel the notion that, once again that the power of the people belongs to the majority.
'The notion that it was reserved to be protection from all governments, ours and others, that would encase the people of the newly formed United States Government by limiting the fighting force of a militia thus requiring that 'in no form would there be a restriction of arms'.

Now it has been said that 'the AR 15 is a form of weapon that should be withdrawn from circulation. I say, again, that we have sufficient laws and regulations that if applied would form the basis of the argument and that in turn, if applied, would form the constriction of application. That these laws and regulations, if applied, would constitute all of the necessary restrictions.

I say again, that 'wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone'. None of the arguments that say 'it is the Federal Government or it is the State Government that is to say, that it is the people of the United States that has the say on this matter, and this matter is by majority rule'. Again, this derivative resides with the people alone' and we must not forget that.

It is a government of the people and for the people and shall remain as that unto infinity.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.


It's true that the 2nd Amendment does not give private individuals the right to carry arms. The 2nd Amendment was written so that states had the ability to create and maintain militias. The Founding Fathers wanted states to be able to protect themselves from a tyrannical federal government. Alexander Hamilton explains the meaning of the 2nd Amendment in the Federalist papers.


Unless you're Army Infantry, SF, or Ranger; marching won't get you a paycheck.


This is the personal opinion of this writer.

@Dragonus: Numbers are superfluous when stating facts, and the 2nd Amendment 'does guarantee to the American people these very rights, and I copy Italicized:

Copy: 'The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices.' End of copy.

Copy: 'Only the conservative right is promoting fascism and turning their kids into mindless drones who kowtow to the corporate fat cats who are currently reaping big money while those with the guns languish in menial jobs and fester in racial hate and domestic violence.' End of copy.

What part of the Communist Manifesto did you get that out of????

I don't know what your age is but after the WWII, many servicemen, brought back souvenirs of American, Japanese, German weapons and there was not a flurry to 'maim and kill civilians, or military for that fact yet you seem to be so contentious in resolving this conflict that is not a conflict at all. Yes, innocent children, teachers and other innocents have been killed but let's not blow this all out of proportion.

Yes I will agree that something must be done and I'm suggesting that there are volumes of rules and regulations that are intended to 'keep our city's and streets safe, that we do not need new rules and regulations just enforce the ones we have now.

Get back to enforcing our culture our morals and you will find that a tremendous amount of success will happen if that is done.

This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.


Clarification: there were over 300 marchers and only about 30 Open Carry Terrorists out there.

These numbers show that more people are interested in saving lives, ending gun violence from the obsessed, and not being selfish, gun toting vigilantes who only think about themselves and are a danger to society.

Only the conservative right is promoting fascism and turning their kids into mindless drones who kowtow to the corporate fat cats who are currently reaping big money while those with the guns languish in menial jobs and fester in racial hate and domestic violence. Not long ago, one of the OCT killed their whole family in Ft Worth. That just proves that anyone who wants a gun is too violent and paranoid to own them. When a person wants a gun, then they need to grow a pair and join the military like I did.

The 2nd was and still is NOT about guns. It was about establishing a military in a time where there was no national military. Also, the word "arms" is not another word for guns. Arms is another word for weapon, which anything can be a weapon and is not exclusive to just guns. There was never a god given right to guns. God said that thou shalt not kill thy neighbor. But here we are suffering from mass shootings after mass shootings which only grew more and more frequent as gun restrictions were weakened more and more. The idea that guns save lives is a false idea with NO supportive facts. Since OCT got their way, the gun related deaths nearly doubled in the first year alone. And the death toll is getting higher and higher as more unbalanced people buy into the NRA TV fear mongering and get more and more guns because a terrorist group tells them to buy guns so that gunmakers can make more money. Greed is the only thing the NRA and gun makers really feel passionate about.

But while we ARE talking about rights, know that when anyone with a gun kills someone on the streets, they are violating other people's 4 judicial rights according to the constitution just to desperately cling to a single misinterpreted right. Also understand that everyone who is on the barrel end of a gun sees the wielder of the gun as a bad guy.

Was it not good enough for the OCTerrorists to stay at the front of the building while the march for life people did their march in peace? I guess not, seeing how the counter protesters tried to be intimidating and FORCED their way to the back where they were not welcomed. That is the main point against the OCT gun people, guns make them more violent, aggressive and intolerant of anyone who is not a fascist right wing conservative. 1000's times a day I see conservatives verbally attack and abuse liberals with name calling and violent rhetoric and snarky comments and then play the mind games by deflecting and finger pointing. All the time I see republican people commit the very acts that they claim others are doing. Just like the person here who claims that liberals are brainwashing the youth when all I see are republicans trying to do the exact same thing to their kids.

Well, the time of cowering to those who tote guns is over. Those who have a "thing" for guns are more and more becoming a smaller minority with the passing of each new mass shooting at a school, a concert, a church, a movie theater, a place of employment, and in the home. Those who are against guns stood brave in front of those who wished to only intimidate others with their metal emotional support devices. If unarmed people can stand up to those with guns who falsely claim they are "good" guys with guns, then they MUST know that criminals will be less afraid of those guns. I've seen the homes of those with guns and the burglars were probably giddy because they were able to steal a bunch of guns and either keep them or sell them off online seeing how the gun laws are so relaxed that criminals can easily steal and sell guns.

So go ahead and act violent and make all those violent statements like "cold dead hands". They just prove that those who own guns are no better than the criminal element and area violent and terroristic part of our society that has no place in OUR society anymore. Don't have the courage to shop in public without a firearm? then stay home and order online or grow a pair and put down the guns and grow up and be the better part of society that doesn't have to resort to violent rhetoric and act like a bunch of bullies who are desperately trying to cling to their security blankets which is in the form of a gun. It is those with guns who need to stop being so closed minded and narrow minded as to only allow the craziness of Fox News, the NRA, and the Alex Jones types to define your fractured and unstable fantasy world where they think they are good guys with guns when they are actually bad guys with guns acting like judge, jury and executioners, when they've never had any training nor do they own any judicial degrees or have any experience in said profession, on the streets when they go for the "kill shot" as I've seen so many of them giddily say to each other when they discuss taking out someone with their guns. I've quietly watched the real world of those with guns and how they act so no one can make false statements that thinking like that does not fill the violent world of gun fascination and obsession. I'm use to those who defend guns making playing mind games and use bully tactic like belittling and insults to make themselves feel better about themselves at the expense of others.

Seeing how I have notifications turned off, those who hate my post can mouth off as much as they like because it'll do no good unless some are so childish that they need to have a tantrum and lash out at others who don't agree with them. All I'm doing is education, speaking the truth, and making sure no delusions are being accepted as fact when they are nothing more than fantasies made up by those who live in a violent culture and use deflective thinking to finger point at others when they should be looking in the mirror and face their own gun obsessed demons and seek psychological help from a professional. Psychologists ARE coming out and stating that the gun culture is becoming a mental disorder based in delusions and paranoia.


Good to see these people march, they look they needed the exercise.


Hello pot, meet kettle...


Wow - a whole 200 marchers!!


Clearly the focus of the media was on the people advocating more gun control. Frankly, I'm surprised an alternative view was even mentioned.

Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er

We need to march for better Mental Health Care and march to stop bullying in any form. Young leaders of not allow the "leaders" of today to use you as pawns for their own political agenda. "To Thine Own Self Be True."


These Factors Enabled Hitler To Influence Young People In Germany;

. Education Policy

. Youth Organisations

. Persecution

Which of these factors was most important?

Hitler influenced the young people of Germany. The DemacRats are doing the same thing history is repeating


And what is the right wing doing?

They are eroding the education system so that the majority of people will be under educated sheep easily lead with fear mongering and violent rhetoric like we see coming from Faux news and the crazy Alex Jones types so that the rich can stay rich and everyone else is forced to work until they are 75 or dead.

Youth organizations? I've seen plenty of conservative prep schools push a right wing agenda that have been established by the religious right who want to box in the masses into a poor working class that does as it's told and gives to the church and promotes racism and intolerance toward anything that is not conservative and stays in their own lane and never swerve out of it.

And I see liberals being persecuted 1000 times a day from stalkers who attack liberal pages with hate speech and violent rhetoric. I see the mass shootings and the systemic racial profiling by many police forces as a big form of persecution. When you are a minority who is shot at on a regular basis, or a native who has had their ancestry nearly exterminated in the name of land and greed only, then you can come to me and talk about persecution. Stop being a privileged snowflake who is whining about some false persecution you dream up that you're feeling.

You being insulting and using name calling is exactly what the germans did when they wanted to feel better than the jews and keep the jews oppressed. I'm glad the youth are not being influenced by your form of hitlerish fascism. It's YOU who is trying to repeat history. If you knew your history, you'd know that hitler and his group were very conservative... Conservatives then, conservatives now, I see no difference in your style of hate and use of insults to make yourself feel better at the expense of others.


So what is the solution?? You did a lot of false blaming and finger pointing but of course, no solution.


How many pro 2nd amendment supporters showed up for this event?


Not very many compared to the big turn out from the march for life people. I'm surprised the gun advocates could walk from the front of the building to the back where they tried to intimidate the marchers with their terrorist acts.


The reason I asked was because the original article mention nothing about it. About 15 minutes later it was updated to include information I inquired about. Your response was very revealing. KDH said nothing about any terrorist acts.


They were too busy working and making a living.

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