Iowa City students march to Pentacrest to call for end to gun violence

Students of Iowa City schools gathered at the University of Iowa Pentacrest Thursday to protest gun violence in the U.S. Students marched across Iowa City and gathered at the Pentacrest to voice their concerns for their safety and demand change.


Grace Smith

Oliver Plews, 12, during a protest against gun violence put on by Iowa City high school students on the Pentacrest at the University of Iowa on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. Plews attended the protest because gun safety is a cause he cares deeply about. “I don’t want to have to wake up and go to school thinking I might get shot,” Plews said.

Colin Votzmeyer, News Reporter

Iowa City K-12 students marched from South East Junior High to gather at the University of Iowa Pentacrest Thursday to protest gun violence in the U.S.

About 100 students, ranging from middle schoolers to high schoolers, started marching from the junior high at 10:30 a.m. and walked to Iowa City City High School before ending at the UI Pentacrest. There, they passed around a megaphone and gave speeches calling for change to gun violence.

Grey Linley, 15, decided to attend and speak at the protest after encountering students at school who wore T-shirts with guns on them to classes.

“My entire life I’ve had panic attacks because of this reality that I could be that statistic. There could be a school shooting,” Linley said.

Students demanded stricter gun laws, background and mental health checks before purchasing firearms, and metal detectors in schools. Iowa City schools students organized a march in June calling for similar demands.  

The protest comes in the wake of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Nov. 19, which claimed five lives, and a shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Nov. 22, which claimed six. 

Zee Lauer, a 15-year-old freshman at City High School, said those with criminal or mental health histories should not be permitted to purchase guns.

“Every shooting is tragic and horrible, and we’re protesting the ability to access a gun so easily,” Lauer said. “We’d be naive to think that a school shooting couldn’t happen to us because it absolutely could. I do worry about school shootings happening at school.”

Peter Brozene, a 15-year-old freshman at City High School, said they do not want to take away all guns but instead want to make it difficult for those who should not have one to get one.

They said the Pentacrest was their final spot to gather because it appeared to be a strong place to get others to listen to their message.

“Marching down here across town, it gets the attention of the whole town,” Brozene said. “We’re making our voices heard whether they like it or not.”

Lauer said they have been making a safety plan mapping out their school and classrooms since 5th grade to know how to exit safely in the event of an active shooter.

“It’s ridiculous that I have to do that,” Lauer said.

Grace Smith contributed to this report.