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Burris Students Demand Action club hosts “Wear Orange Rally” at Muncie City Hall

By Olivia Ground, The Daily News | Published on in The Daily News
Community members gather at City Hall on June 7 for the "Wear Orange Rally" hosted by Burris High School. Guest speakers shared concerns about gun safety and advocated for stricter gun control laws. Olivia Ground, DN

Burris Laboratory School students, community members and politicians all dressed in orange gathered in front of the Muncie City Hall steps Friday evening as they showed their support for gun reform legislation.

The “Wear Orange Rally” was hosted by the Burris High School chapter of Students Demand Action (SDA). Events like this took place across the country in memory of Hadiya Pendleton, according to event speaker, outgoing president and founder of the Burris chapter of SDA and recent graduate of Burris Laboratory School, Lucy Rutter.

“The color orange has a long and proud history in the gun safety movement,” Rutter said in a speech given at the top of the event, “orange honors those lost to gun violence everyday.”


Recent graduate from Burris High School Lucy Rutter speaks into a megaphone June 7 at City Hall during the “Wear Orange Rally” hosted by Burris High School Students Demand Action club. Rutter is the founder and outgoing president of the club. Olivia Ground, DN

Community member Aimee Robertson-West spoke on behalf of the family of Dylan Stafford, a Muncie Central student who died in a firearm suicide in 2021. She urged for a “cool off” period to be placed that would allow for law enforcement to have additional time to perform background checks before someone can purchase a gun.

“You may not be aware that Dylan  acquired a shotgun with no waiting period at Rural King,” Robertson-West said, “Had he had the time, he may have reconsidered his reactive decision or asked for help”

Robertson-West, who is also the Vice President of Women4Change Indiana, spoke about the connection of gun violence to domestic violence across the country, and specifically in Indiana, pleading for community members to take action by listening to the youth and voting.

State Representative of District 34 Sue Errington (D) was in attendance and took time to share her thanks for the students for inviting her to speak, and applauded them for “standing up to” State Representative Jim Lucas, who flashed a gun at the Burris students the previous winter.


Rising Senior at Burris High School Jamie Zabel gives a speech about gun-related violence in schools during the “Wear Orange Rally” June 7 at City Hall. Zabel encouraged those in attendance to take action and advocate for change. Olivia Ground, DN

“Democrats over the years have offered multiple measures for gun law reform,” Errington said in her speech, “these are the very things that the American public is telling the president, congress, and the US legislators that they want… Our society needs more than thoughts and prayers to ensure that our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools and grocery stores are safe from the horrific tragedy of gun violence.”

Yvonne Thompson, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Commision for the City of Muncie, expressed a feeling of guilt to the youth in attendance.

“I am here to say an older person to say that I am sorry. I am sorry that there was not more of an effort to put gun laws into place or to protect you when you go to school, when you go to the mall or when you go anywhere,” Thompson said.

Thompson expressed a feeling of “responsibility” that the older generation has to “make sure [youth] get a chance to live life in peace.” She shared a hope that students would continue to publicly demonstrate their concerns and advocate for change.

“You have a right to share your concerns, and if someone doesn’t listen go to the next person,” Thompson said. “Always know there is someone that will help you.”


Orange flowers in glass jars sit on the steps of City Hall June 7 during the “Wear Orange Rally.” The orange flowers represent the number of people who die by gun violence daily. Olivia Ground, DN

Rising Burris Laboratory School Senior Jamie Zabel also spoke, sharing her experiences as a student living through the realities of active shooter drills and lockdowns. Zabel shared her earliest memories of being a fifth-grade student when she was prompted by a teacher to pick an item to defend themselves.

Zabel picked a pair of “grown up scissors.” Their teacher told them that scissors wouldn’t stop a bullet.

“An iPad wouldn’t have stopped a bullet either. An neither would a book, or a notebook or any other common classroom item,” Zabel said, “The reality of safety in our schools is: children are forced to consider their safety far too early. There are inadequate gun safety measures in our country.”

Rutter reminded individuals in attendance of ways to register to vote and ways to connect with resources about gun violence, such as downloading the “Demand Action” app for ways to get involved.


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