Metro Nashville Public Schools and March For Our Lives (MFOL), the anti-gun, New York City-based political action advocacy organization, are politicizing the March 27 Covenant Presbyterian School shootings by encouraging Nashville and Middle Tennessee high school students to participate in two separate anti-gun rallies on Monday.

As The Tennessee Star reported on March 27, three children and three adults were killed by 28-year-old former student Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who identified as transgender, when she forced her way into the school.

The rampage was cut short by Nashville Metro Police Officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, who returned fired upon Hale, killing her.

On Thursday, The Star reported that the Tennessee State Police foiled a riot, largely consisting of local high school students, incited by three Democrat state legislators.

State Reps. Justin Jones (D-Nashville), Justin Pierson (D-Memphis), and Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) encouraged a crowd of more than a thousand protesters to breach the Tennessee House of Representatives chamber floor during a gun control demonstration. Tennessee State Troopers stopped protesters attempting to enter the chamber from the gallery above and the ground floor.

MFOL, founded in the wake of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has called for a Nashville student walkout to protest gun violence on Monday.

Through their social media channels, the group, fronted by former students of the Florida school, are encouraging students to walk out of class at 10:13 a.m. – the time when Metro Police first received calls of an active shooter at The Covenant Presbyterian School. Students are encouraged to march from their school to the Tennessee State Capitol for a 10:45 a.m. rally.

MFOL, who appeals to prospective members to “join the movement that’s saving lives” is demanding gun safety by calling for a ban of “assault weapons.”

Reportedly slated to appear at Monday’s protest are Manuel Oliver, a father of a Parkland High School shooting victim, and Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman.

“I think it’s time for pressure, and I have total hope in these young generations of Americans that are ready to make things happen. When they want something, they get together. I don’t recommend you fighting them back,” Oliver told WKRN News.

Meanwhile, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) say they have an alternative for students to voice their concerns about the danger of school shootings with walk-in rallies at all high schools on Monday.

The district is promoting the “walk-in” rallies as being student-led initiatives designed to give any student who wishes to join the ability to discuss their concerns, petition their representatives, and participate in activities meant to honor and remember the victims of The Covenant Presbyterian School shooting and those who have been killed in past mass shootings throughout the country.

“I understand and share the frustration, anger, and fears that many of our students, staff, and families have expressed in recent days over the latest and closest in a long line of school shootings and the lack of meaningful action by lawmakers to address the epidemic of gun violence in our society,” [emphasis added] Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of Metro Schools said in a highly politicized statement.

“Our team has worked closely with student leaders, including our student Board members Abenezer Haile and Alayna Mitchell, to develop a plan of action that would meet the desire of students to voice their concerns while keeping student safety top of mind,” [emphasis added] Battle added.

MNPS is encouraging all students in the district to wear red Monday, which they say is to honor of The Covenant Presbyterian School shooting victims.

On Friday night, in preparation for Monday’s MFOL-sponsored walkout, MNPS high schools reportedly issued a reminder to families via email that “leaving school during the day without following school and district protocols is a violation of our MNPS Code of Conduct. Any student who walks elects to leave campus (AKA “walkout”) will be subject to out-of-school suspension.”  If students chose to attend the MFOL march, they were asked to treat the absence as any other and use normal protocol. Students who elect to participate should report directly to the Capitol, not the school first.

According to their website, MFOL is a “courageous youth-led movement dedicated to promoting civic engagement, education, and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence.”

March for Our Lives spokesman David Hogg told a Boston audience gathered to talk gun control, “I’m feeling some version of how all of us are feeling. Exhausted. Exhausted of this continuing.”

Five years ago, MFOL staged a rally for gun control attended by thousands at Nashville Public Square. The group also organized a rally in June 2022.

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Michael Patrick Leahy is the Editor in Chief of The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. TC Weber contributed to this report.
Photo “March for Our Lives Rally” by TheNoxid. CC BY 2.0.