During Walkouts, Proviso Students Focus Protests On Problems Closer To Home

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Proviso West students walking out of school on March 14. | Courtesy Jaleel Anthony 

Raneen El-Barbarawi stood atop a wooden box outside of Proviso East High School in Maywood armed with a bullhorn and an impassioned plea.

The Proviso East senior was among high school students across Proviso Township, and around the country, who participated in the National School Walkout, held March 14 at 10 a.m.

The demonstrations were scheduled to last for 17 minutes to symbolize the 17 victims murdered at Florida’s Marjory Stonemon Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

That mass shooting has since served as something of a shock to a country that had, to some observers, become anesthetized to gun violence.

El-Barbarawi, however, wanted to address what she described as the tragically routine murders of young people in her own community.

East Walkout_Raven

Proviso East student Raneen El-Barbarawi, pictured holding a bullhorn, during the March 14 walkout. | Courtesy Raven El-Barbarawi 

“Millions of hearts ache for those 17 children murdered from gun violence, but why don’t we have those same million hearts aching for those who are also murdered from [gun violence] in our own community,” she said as First Avenue traffic whizzed by.

El-Barbarawi referenced the murder of a 17-year-old student a week earlier, as well as the March 4 killing of Mikhail Evans, 20, a former Proviso East student who was gunned down on the 1100 block of South 6th Ave. in Maywood at around 2:30 p.m.

El-Barbarawi  speaking in front of Proviso East High School on March 14. | Courtesy Raneen El-Barbarawi.

“We must pay respects for those two students killed in our own community,” she said. “A community is slowly tearing apart because of murders.

“Gun violence needs to stop now. Enough is enough! At the end of the day, a gun is a gun,” El-Barbarawi added. “I’m sick and tired of now knowing who I might never see again. Put the guns down!”

Meanwhile, less than a mile south on First Avenue — part of which had been blocked off by police to accommodate the East students — a crowd of students at Proviso Math and Science Academy spilled out onto the school’s Roosevelt Road-facing property and chanted.

“Enough is Enough,” they yelled. “We call BS.” “No more, guns!”

Proviso Math and Science Academy students during the March 14 walkout. | Courtesy Michelle Mireles/Facebook 

Maddy Norton, a PMSA student who helped organize that school’s walkout, said that she hoped the demonstration sent a signal to elected officials indicating that “they know we won’t forget about these events and we will hold them accountable in the future.

“Many of us will be able to vote soon,” she said, “and we have the opportunity to make the changes we need in our government. We are the future and we will change it for the greater good.”

At Proviso West High School in Hillside, the focus of students was also closer to home. Jaleel Anthony, one of the organizers of the demonstration, railed against what he described as the school’s unsafe environment — as District 209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez stood mere inches away, patiently listening.

“Today … they made us take our belts off, take out all of our change and went through our bags thoroughly,” Anthony said. “Once we got inside, a second station scanned our ID and made sure we had on our uniform. But on a normal day they don’t do none of that. They don’t scan IDs or care about uniforms.”

The student protests garnered a significant amount of responses on Facebook, with most commenters voicing support for the students. Some people, however, said that the school day was not the time or place for a political protest.

Jaleel Anthony, pictured in red shirt and black sweater, with his fellow Proviso West students on March 14. | Courtesy Jaleel Anthony 

“Love you all for standing up to support the demand for common sense gun control,” wrote one person underneath a video published to the social media site on Wednesday of the Proviso East demonstration. “You are the future and you make us proud and give us all hope. Stay strong.”

Another respondent, however, suspected that “half of” the students demonstration were “just walking out cause of not wanting to be in class not because of the cause [sic].”

Whatever their motivation, Hillside Police Chief Joseph M. Lukaszek commended students at Proviso West “who planned, and put in action, a peaceful demonstration with respect to an important issue facing our nation and communities throughout the Chicago area.

“These students faced many obstacles which were placed in their path which they overcame,” he stated. “As a community leader myself, I am proud to say Proviso West High School students did a fantastic job today.” VFP

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5 thoughts on “During Walkouts, Proviso Students Focus Protests On Problems Closer To Home”

  1. The proviso west student organizer is correct proviso west has never really cared for its students. When I was a sophomore there in 2010 I was stabbed in the schools circle drive. My principle at the time did not do anything to make me feel safe, she actually said it was all my fault.

    1. ANTONY GONZALEZ: I am sorry that you had to endure that incident at your high school alma mater at Proviso West High School. Q:) Who was the principal at that time when you was a student there? Did you parents got involved and discuss it with the board of education members at that time in 2010?

      1. Thank you for your concern and my principles name was Ms. Wallace. Everything was kept very hush hush actually my parents didn’t really know how to go about it. It never occurred to my until I got older as to why we never went to the school board because we definitely should have. I ended up serving a week suspension and the other student got the same punishment which is ridiculous seeing as he was the assailant and I was the victim. But according to ms. Wallace I had brought it upon myself because according to her assumptions I was a gang member since I’m latino and I guess in her mind all latinos were affiliated with the Latin Kings. Crazy thing is I didn’t even know what a “Latin king” was seeing as I had just moved there from out of state Arizona. Being the new kid in a new school with little to no friends I had no idea about the gang culture in the area. Let’s just say the 2 years I attended Proviso West were the worst years of my young life. After the incident I felt as if I had this huge target on my back. I recall a time Ms.Wallace had a C.O. pull me out of lunch just so she could try to intimidate me. I ended up dropping out because I could no longer handle the pressure I was under with the school administration. I never really spoke up about it either because who was going to believe a student over a principle? I’m glad to have heard that she was let go a couple of years after I had dropped out I just wish it had been around the time when I was still attending proviso west. I could have graduated along with my friends but unfortunately it just didn’t happen that way. Now all I have is my story and the stitches/scar from the stabbing on my arm to remind me of the injustice I had to go through. I hope nobody has to go through that like I did.

    2. ANTONY GONZALEZ: I am sorry that you had to go through that traumatic experience at Proviso West High School. I have been reading the local newspaper about former principal Ms. Alexis Wallace’s leadership and some controversy. It’s sad that she would assume that all Latinos are gang members/drug dealers, which is not true. I hope that you are having a successful career and got your G.E.D. You cannot let the past hold you back from achieving potential in your life.

  2. All I can say is that I am so proud of the high school students at Proviso East and Proviso West for taking a stance and demonstrate their true leadership, and standing up for what is an epidemic of innocent youths being killed by gun violence. I hope that the politicians can finally listen to the youth.

    I have been reading the articles on “The Village Free Press” about the gun violence that is happening in Maywood. I truly believe in order to stop the gun violence, nothing stops a “bullet” like opportunities and investing our youth with job training, businesses, and etc.

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