**FILE** Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas (Wikimedia Commons)
**FILE** Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas (Wikimedia Commons)

For Ward 4 parent Amber Golden, the mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and the Buffalo massacre that left nearly a dozen Black people dead before that, evoked memories of smaller, yet similarly tragic events that rocked her and her family over the last few decades.   

In the 1980s, while a student at what was then known as Wilson Senior High School in Northwest, Golden learned that someone shot and nearly killed her friend at the bus stop they frequented. Decades later, after a Florida jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman drove her to tears, Golden tightly hugged her son upon his return home shortly after a sniper killed four people near the Van Ness Metro station.  

When it comes to the issue of school safety, Golden said she continues to research the gun lobby’s impact in public policy. However, she has stopped short of calling for a stronger police presence in schools, as she said it would exacerbate the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and young people. 

Golden has instead chosen to expand her focus on what she describes as the United States’ unwillingness to create an environment that prioritizes people’s mental and emotional well-being.

“Now that it’s [young] adults on children rather than children on children who can’t get relegated to thugs and criminals, it’s getting more publicity,” Golden said. 

“Violence and shootings are not new in this country, whether you go to organized crime, or the ‘Wild, Wild West,’” Golden added. 

“It’s just a matter of where it happens and where it’s acceptable. I think about how little we pay attention to overall mental health and wellbeing as a driver. We need to help people learn to live healthy lives and make shifts societally to help everyone’s mental health.”

For Some Parents, It’s Bigger Than Guns 

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24 resulted in 21 fatalities — 19 students and two teachers — and 17 injuries. Law enforcement officials shot and killed 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who they identified as the shooter.

Over the next several days, as reports about the sequence of events surfaced, teachers, parents, and students in Texas, and around the United States, lamented the lack of safety from COVID, mass shooters and other phenomena that has ravaged schools over the past year. 

Last week, members of the Principal Recovery Network, a group of school leaders that have experienced school shootings, wrote a letter imploring Democrats and Republicans to tackle the issue of gun violence in the form of legislation. 

In the District, students and teachers in public and public charter schools recounted undergoing safety drills on the day following the mass shooting in Uvalde. Toward the end of the week, middle school students at Washington Latin Public Charter School in Northwest reportedly held an early morning protest in a show of solidarity with community members at Robb Elementary School. 

Southwest mother and safe passage advocate Tara Brown said that after the events of the past week, she remains even more resolute in keeping her child enrolled in Friendship Collegiate Academy’s virtual program. 

Months before the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, Brown’s child, who battles depression and other socioemotional issues, entered Friendship Collegiate Academy’s virtual program out of concern about COVID-19 and on-campus bullying. 

Even with her child at home, Brown often worries about the gun violence that unfolds in her community and compels her to not allow her young one to play outside. 

The ideal solution, Brown said, centers on mayoral leadership that cedes control of the public schools to other elected officials, like members of the State Board of Education, and the residents. 

“My child wants to desperately go back into the building even with the threat of bullying but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to let that happen,” Brown said. 

“We’re talking about the physical, emotional and psychological safety that children don’t have in schools. Safety is just a fantasy. This is a scary time to raise children.” 

An Elder Speaks

Last week, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw outlined the events of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary, including the 45 minutes that authorities waited before killing Ramos, the school district officer’s decision to not enter the classroom at the time of the shooting, and numerous 911 calls that came from the classroom during the massacre.  

Ahmad Nurriddin, a Southwest resident and great-grandparent of children who attend a local charter school, said that District school officials must take precautions to ensure a similar situation doesn’t unfold locally. 

“It’s clear that those children were not valued,” Nurriddin said. “I’m not sure what the local police were doing that held them up from going in for that length of time. I just hope and pray that that kind of tragic mistake doesn’t occur again for any child’s family.”

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.