‘We’ve been silent too long’ – Birmingham teens to host public town hall on gun violence Thursday

Local News

Students from Birmingham City Schools will host and lead a public town hall meeting to address gun violence. 

Gun violence recently claimed the lives of two Huffman High School students. Courtlin Arrington, 17, was shot and killed inside a classroom in March and Nyteria Spigner, also 17, was shot and killed Tuesday night in an incident at the Inglenook Recreation Center.

Plans for the town hall, titled #NeverAgainBHM, were in motion prior to the shooting involving Spigner and were prompted by Arrington’s death. 

Student members of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council organized the town hall. 

Justin Smith, a Wenonah High School sophomore, told CBS 42 he was inspired to organize the event after watching national news coverage of the Never Again movement in response to gun violence at other schools.

That national coverage included the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which claimed the lives of 17 students. 

“It is very important to have this conversation, especially now, because we’ve been silent too long,” Smith said.

Smith, who aspires to run for president in 2040, said the fear of being shot in school should no longer be a reality for students. 

“If you can lose your life at school — the one place besides church and home that you actually feel comfortable at — that is the worst case scenario,” Smith said. “When it happened so close to home, it basically happened at home. It hit really hard. It hit home. It hit my heart.”

Smith said he hopes to get answers at the town hall meeting and hopes society will move past the culture of promoting gun violence in movies, music and on the streets.

“My biggest question for society right now: Why do we promote bad things?,” Smith said. “I think the answer to that question is: Because we follow others. We follow others and do things we see other people doing.” 

Naomi Walder, who recently received national attention after speaking on behalf of African-American girls during a March for Our Lives rally in Washinton D.C., will be a special guest at the town hall.

Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Player Marcell Dareus is one sponsor of the town hall through the Dareus Foundation. 

The meeting is set for 6-7:30 p.m. inside the auditorium of A.H. Parker High School.

If you cannot attend, students hope you will join the conversation on social media with #NeverAgainBHM. 

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