High School Students Were Arrested Outside Paul Ryan’s Office While Protesting For Gun Control

"We want him to end his silence before he leaves office.”

Four high school students were arrested outside Paul Ryan's office in Washington, D.C. Wednesday while staging a sit-in for gun control. In a now-viral video, the four students can be seen having their wrists bound with zip ties by Capitol Police outside the House Speaker's office before being led out of the building and into a white police van. The incident, which occurred days before school walkouts were held in memorial of the Columbine High School shooting, is the latest reminder that gun control is an issue on which students across the country refuse to have their voices silenced. 

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The four girls, who have asked that their full names not be published, were participating in a demonstration of about 10 students organized by the D.C.-metro area chapter of Students Demand Action, a national student-focused initiative started by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action calling for common sense gun reform. 

Naomi, one of the students involved, told A Plus via email that police officers were already present when the group arrived at Ryan's office, and the sit-in lasted about two minutes at most. The students were given three warnings, during which several stood up, before the four girls were removed by officers. 

In the video of the demonstration captured by News2Share news director Alejandro Alvarez, after police inform them that they now going to be arrested, one student can be seen sitting up, calmly tell her friend to call her parents and then lying back down on the ground.

"Gun violence is preventable, yet nothing has been done," Naomi said. "People are dying and we can't wait until NRA-bought politicians are voted out, not when nearly 100 people die from gun violence every day. We chose Paul Ryan's office because he has not opened the floor to allow a vote on background checks. We want him to end his silence before he leaves office."

Afterward, the girls were taken to a youth detention center and put in a holding cell until their parents came to get them. Naomi said this is not the first time she's participated in a protest, but it is the first time she had been arrested. However,  she went into the event with the understanding that getting arrested was a real possibility. 

"In most cases, being removed for protesting from a capital building means being arrested; I had contacted people who'd participated in sit-ins before to figure out the more exact situation," she said. And while she understands why some of the protesters chose to get up when they were asked by police, she felt "if we had all left when they told us we should, we wouldn't be making much of a statement."

The four girls' story has since gone viral and earned praise from activists all over the country, including Parkland student David Hogg.

Naomi said there were only two reporters at the sit-in, so she was unprepared for the response. She said people have generally been supportive of their actions - including a teacher who emailed her to tell her she was impressed. And the incident, she said, has only made her more inclined to fight for what she believes in. 

As of publication, Ryan's office has not commented on the incident. 

Cover image via Shutterstock / Christopher Halloran

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