Protestors Respond to Middleton Shooting


Annie Warriner

Students mimic being dead by laying on the floor

At 3:00 pm on Sunday, September 23, more than three dozen people, armed with signs and orange T-shirts, gathered in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol for a “die-in” to protest gun violence.

The protest started with two anti-gun violence speeches delivered on top of a small, overturned black milk crate – an improvised replacement for the megaphones that aren’t allowed in the building – by state assembly representatives Chris Taylor and Melissa Sargent.

In an interview with a Cardinal Chronicle reporter after the event, Representative Taylor reiterated many of the points she made in her speech. “I reject that we can’t do anything . . . This [gun violence] is not inevitable,” she said. Taylor emphasized how important the students’ voices are regarding this issue. “I think [the students’] voices are the most important, are the absolutely most important,” she said. “The whole country’s watching you; the whole country’s listening to your voice . . . And we need every single person, and our young people, to continue to lead us.”

After hearing from the state representatives, the protestors laid on the floor, taking the position of the dead to represent the fatalities caused by guns every day in America.

Lauren Dahler, a senior from Middleton High School, then read off over fifty names – only a fraction of the victims of American gun violence. The group “died” for 10 minutes – as was explained by Dahler and other leaders, they chose to die for 10 minutes because on average, 600 people die from gun violence every year in Wisconsin, according to the CDC. At 10 minutes, that is one second for each victim.

“I feel like my biggest worry when going into school or just going anywhere shouldn’t be losing my life,” Robin Alcorta, an MHS senior, said when asked why he came to the protest. Many other MHS students gave similar answers.

“No one should feel like or be scared that they’ll never get home. Parents shouldn’t feel fear that their kids are never going to come home and it’s a really scary thing,” Talia Glinberg, a sophomore, shared.

Zoe Salyapongse, a junior, also talked about the fear surrounding this issue. “Just on Wednesday, we had the incident in Middleton, which scared everyone because, you know, it was a bit too close to home, but then you have to realize that everything is a bit too close to home because guns are an American issue and we have to really protest that,” she said.

In addition to being scared, junior Katie Frye said she also felt angry. “Gun violence is an issue specific to the U.S., and gun deaths are completely preventable if we were to create common-sense gun laws,” she said. “I’m super angry that a lot of our Republican legislators don’t seem to care about deaths that happen in our communities every single day.”  

After the 10 minutes of “dying,” protestors were shown to a voter registration table and wrote messages to Governor Scott Walker on large, colorful sticky notes describing why he should support gun control legislation.

While scribbling a message on her sticky note, junior Anaka Srinivas told us what she wanted to say to Scott Walker. “The time has passed to worry about whether or not we need gun control, whether or not we need mental health supports,” she said. “It’s time to work together and come to a solution because this needs an end and it needs an end now.”

The protesters then marched through the capitol to Scott Walker’s office and plastered his door with their messages. Many also left their signs in the small antechamber outside of his office. Charles Wetzel, one of the teen organizers, spreadsheets of paper on the floor of the antechamber, each marked with the name of a victim of gun violence.

The group then marched out of the Capitol. Outside, the group dispersed into the city, while a few protestors were asked to be interviewed by local news stations and The Cardinal Chronicle.

Max Prestigiacomo, one of the event organizers and an MHS senior, spoke to The Cardinal Chronicle about the goal of this protest. “I want to say that we’re not trying to take away guns from responsible gun owners,” he said. “I wish people would realize that . . . We’re not trying to take away guns from everyone. And I think a responsible gun owner should be able to have a gun. I’m talking about people with mental illness, people who are domestic abusers, people who are felons – should not be allowed to have guns. And that’s why I’m here protesting today.”

When interviewed, Laurie Horton, a mother of two children in the Madison school district, explained why she came to this protest. “I work in Middleton at Middleton Outreach Ministry, and [the shooting in Middleton] was very close to home,” she said. “We went on lockdown in the shooting last week, and I’m glad to have this opportunity to show how I feel about gun violence and the need for our legislators to enact common-sense legislation to reduce gun violence.”