“Arms Around Our Kids” Demonstrations at Pasadena Unified Schools Demanded “Protect Kids Not Guns”

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8:23 pm | March 9, 2018

Pasadena Unified School District students, families, faculty, and local area government officials demonstrated Friday morning across 27 District campuses, linking arms and chanting in solidarity in the wake last month’s tragic mass shooting at a high school in Florida that took the lives of 17 innocent people.

“In the State of California I know we have been working on the gun violence issues since the 70s and we fight every day for legislation to make things better and safer for our children and our families and we will continue to do so — we are not going away,” said First District of California PTA President Sandy Russell.

The PTA Council of Pasadena Unified organized the “Arms Around Our Kids” campaign in support of children’s safety, in the wake of the recent school shootings, according to a press release.

“We’re talking about making sure tomorrow is safer for all of our kids and this is a wonderful PTA day where the kids inspired us in Florida to try to make a difference in gun violence and gun safety. The Pasadena PTA seized the moment and brought us all together to just say we want tomorrow to be safe,” said Californnia Senator Anthony Portantino.

Portantino, a father himself, says this movement is a public safety priority.

“I’m a father of a teenager and when I send her off to school I want her to be safe and I want everybody else’s kids to be safe. Truthfully there’s just too much damn gun violence in America and if Washington won’t act, we’ve got to take control and do it ourselves,” added Portantino.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek was in attendance at Blair’s demonstration in full support of the demonstrations.

“What’s going on here today is people expressing their love and concern for their children and facing the reality that sending kids to school is not having absolute confidence that it’s a safe place any longer and expressing their frustration with that reality and trying to organize people to make sure that no longer will be true in the future,” said Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek.

A few miles north at Altadena’s Aveson Charter School, a similar scene of parents, students, and faculty gathering in front of the campus in solidarity took place.

“It really was started by the Pasadena Unified School District and because we’re a charter that is authorized by them, our parents got excited about it too. We’re on [students'] side to make sure they stay safe and never again have violence in our community,” said Aveson’s Founder Kate Bean.

Aveson Charter School was on lockdown for a short period last Wednesday as authorities searched for two men who broke into a nearby Altadena home.

Aveson parent of two, Stephanie Pinto, described the event as an alarming reminder of public dangers that can occur near schools, despite it being off-campus.

“Because of the nerves of recent school shootings parents were extremely alarmed and students were on lockdown behind barricaded tables and in closets. We didn’t have that when I was growing up,” said Pinto.

“We’re just saying ‘enough of this culture of fear’ in our schools. We’re here to take care of them,” added Pinto.