Click here for video from Friday's student rally.
They met for the second time in a week, again to mark the death of another classmate and friend, another teenager a year shy of high school graduation.
Omaha high school students this morning could not comprehend the shooting that killed their friend, 16-year-old Eriana Carr, any more than they understood the last shooting that killed another Omaha teen, 17-year-old Montrell Wiseman.
Both were juniors at their Omaha high schools, Benson and South, respectively. Both were involved in basketball and other activities. And both deaths have spurred teenagers to speak out.
At Benson this morning, about 200 students and adults gathered outside the school's entrance to celebrate the lives they are going to save, said Benson Principal Anita Harkins-Baldwin.
“We're not afraid to spearhead this. We're not afraid,” she said.
The crowd included representatives from five Omaha Public Schools high schools, Papillion-La Vista South High and Gross High. Officials from the Empowerment Network, the Omaha school board and the Omaha City Council also attended.
They all signed “I Stand for Peace” cards that they read aloud from. They slipped on “Omaha Teen Peace Movement” T-shirts donated by the Omaha Schools Foundation. And they released dozens of pink balloons into the sky.
Benson students spoke of Carr, how she laughed, how she would dance into class and ask what's wrong when she spotted a frown.
“I'll never forget the good times I had with her,” said Tyler Stratton, a Benson junior.
He pledged to complete a goal Carr would be proud of: graduating from high school.
Harkins-Baldwin boasted of Carr's pride in all things Benson. “She even loved her teachers,” her principal said.
Students' sobs could be heard throughout the rally, including from those asked to speak about Carr.
South students, who started the peace movement a week ago, also repeated their message of active involvement to their peers. This morning, they included adults in their pleas as well.
“Don't be scared. Y'all cannot be scared,” said South student Tiyonna Crawford, who was a friend of Wiseman.
She said the talk of ending violence has not done enough. People, she said, must do more than say, “Enough is enough.”
She called on adults to set a good example for youths by staying out of gangs.
Malik Crawford, a senior at South and a friend of Wiseman, noted he's older than both of the victims they gathered to honor.
“I wake up and ask myself if I'm next, because it's like that,” Crawford said. “We're all in this together.”
Wiseman died Oct. 21 after he was shot near 21st and Binney Streets.
Carr was the second OPS student shot to death in October and the third Benson High student to die violently in the past 14 months.
About 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, she and her cousin had taken a walk and were about to open the family's front gate to go inside when the assailants — inside a car parked across the street — rolled down a window and opened fire. A short time later, she died.
Carr was on the school basketball team, the cheerleading squad and was an honors student in the classroom.
Her classmates prodded everyone to do something different.
“Believe in your ability to not be the sum of your surroundings,” said Cherish Harbour, a Benson senior. “Every student here is a face of change. ... I'm getting so tired of going to funerals of people who just never got to live their lives, and it just hurts.”
Student rally for peace
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