On Wednesday afternoon, black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., assembled to draw attention to their growing safety concerns since returning to class—concerns they say may not necessarily be shared or highlighted by their white classmates, who have received the bulk of the national media’s attention following the deadly shooting that killed 17 at their school.
At a press conference they organized, black students told reporters that they felt left out of the conversations on gun violence that have followed in the wake of the February shooting. And some safety measures that have been put in place at Stoneman Douglas High—namely, an increased police presence on campus—have left them feeling in more danger.
Among the students, the Miami Herald reports, was 17-year-old Kai Koerber, who told the crowd that he worried that increased law enforcement at a predominantly white school meant that he and other black students would be treated like “potential criminals.”
“It’s bad enough we have to return with clear backpacks,” Koerber said. “Should we also return with our hands up?”
On Twitter, WLRN reporter Nadege Green live-tweeted the event, capturing footage of 17-year-old Tyah-Amoy Roberts as she spoke in front of reporters.
“Black and brown men and women are disproportionately targeted and killed by law enforcement,” Roberts said. “These are not facts I can live with comfortably.”
The students made clear that they didn’t want to detract from the work their white peers were doing, but wanted the conversation around gun violence to be more inclusive of concerns around police violence. Roberts wondered if the same people who showed up for #MarchForOurLives would show up for Stephon Clark, Alton Sterling and Sandra Bland, Green wrote.
Tyah-Amoy a Marjorie Stoneman Douglas student said conversations about gun violence have to include police violence. She asked, the same people who showed up for #MarchForOurLives–will they show up for #StephonClark? #AltonSterling? #SandraBland? pic.twitter.com/QIhvy9gYHD
— Nadege C. Green (@NadegeGr
Green also noted that only about eight media organizations covered the press conference—most of them local news outlets.
While 11 percent of Stoneman Douglas High School students are black, they’ve been largely absent from the national news coverage of the school shooting and the wave of activism that has followed since.
At a recent event, one of the more well-known faces of the post-Parkland gun-reform movement, student David Hogg, told Axios co-founder Mike Allen that the biggest mistake the media made in covering the Parkland shooting was not giving his black classmates a voice.
The Rev. Rosalina Osgood, a member of the Broward County School Board, told the Miami Herald that she doesn’t want students of color “to be angry and feel that they’re being ignored.”
“I don’t think anybody’s intentionally excluding them, but nobody’s intentionally including them, either,” she said.