A teen from South Los Angeles who lost her brother to gun violence commanded the March for Our Lives stage in Washington, D.C., on Saturday with a moving speech about the trauma survivors face and the urgent need for change.
“I am a survivor,” Edna Lizbeth Chavez, a 17-year-old student at Manual Arts High School, told the crowd. “I have lived in South L.A. my entire life and have lost many loved ones to gun violence. This is normal. Normal to the point that I have learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.”
Chavez revealed that her brother, Ricardo, was killed by a bullet when he was in high school, a violent act that permanently changed her entire family.
“I also lost my mother, my sister and myself to that trauma and that anxiety,” she said. “If the bullet did not kill me, that anxiety and that trauma will. I carry that trauma everywhere I go.”
The teen, who is an activist and youth leader in Los Angeles, spoke passionately about the need not only for gun law reform but also for drastic cultural change in schools. She emphasized that more guns and more police on campuses is not the answer, noting that cops in schools are more likely to “profile and criminalize” black and brown students than to make them feel safe.
“Arming teachers will not work,” Chavez said. “More security in our schools does not work. Zero tolerance policies do not work. They make us feel like criminals. We should feel empowered and supported in our schools.”
You can watch Chavez’s speech in full above.