LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Between vigil ceremonies at and around Michigan State University’s campus, some of the students who chose to remain at school chose to attend a silent protest at the steps of the Michigan Capitol Wednesday morning and into the afternoon. 

The student organizer of the MSU Student Sit In Event, Maya Manuel, expressed that the presence of all the students and others far surpassed her hopes that at least 20 people would attend. 

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As more than 200 student survivors from Michigan State University gathered in front of the Capitol steps, they sat in long columns sitting “criss cross applesauce” as they had been taught in elementary and middle school, where many practiced safety protocols in case of a shooting. 

They were joined by numerous veterans, legislators, and other community members. 

Representative Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor) was the first to speak, and related to the MSU students as many of his constituents attend MSU and have practiced drills in the case of a school shooter.  

“While Spartans and Wolverines share a healthy rivalry, I want to tell you today that Ann Arbor is here with you, we support you, our hearts are here with you,” Representative Morgan said, “We may be Wolverines, but we are all Spartan Strong today.” 

He closed his remarks by promising the audience that while being in a position of power, the legislature was going to act now.  

“This will not be another thoughts and prayers moment that is not followed by action and change,” Representative Morgan said, “My colleagues and I are going to do more than this, we are going to respond with bold and decisive action.  We have legislation ready to go with universal background checks to Extreme Risk Laws and more.  We will not wait for another tragedy to do what should have been done long ago.” 

The student who organized the MSU part of the protest, Maya Manuel, also made her first public appearance since the shooting to express her feelings. She also asked the legislators present to stand and face the MSU students who sat on the Capitol steps to look at them. 

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Later, U.S. Congresswoman Elissa Slokin (D-Lansing) conveyed that she was very furious with the whole ordeal, first apologizing to the Oxford survivors and students present. 

“I am just so freakin’ furious, and I had to sit up there with our governor and our law enforcement and have another press conference yesterday saying all the facts of a terrible situation that is going to change the lives of our young people forever.  They will never be the same, because of it as we know with Oxford.  The community will never be the same.” 

The number one responsibility of elected leaders is to protect your citizens from harm, Slotkin said, and the number one killer of young people under 21 is gun violence. 

“So you either decide that you give a crap about children and you’re going to do something about what is killing them or you cannot say you care about children. You cannot claim you care about children,” Slotkin added. 

After taking an informal poll of the crowd to show who knew gun owners, Slotkin claimed the idea of people caring about “access to their second amendment and gun rights or you care about saving students’ safety, that it’s one or the other is completely crap.”

“You can be a responsible gun owner, we all know them,” Slotkin said, “And that’s fundamentally different from a group of elected leaders who will not physically come to a table to negotiate.” 

“And I am calling out my peers from the other side of the aisle, if you will not come to the table to negotiate, you will be out of office a year from now,” she said. 

Attorney General Dana Nessel also appeared on the capitol steps and began her address by stating how close to home the shooting was for her. 

“I have two Spartans who were sheltering in place with many of you just a few nights ago, and of all the times that we have said it’s time to do something about this, here’s the good news is that for Michigan State University students, you already did something about this.  You voted last November and you voted so that we could have meaningful change in this state and that change is about to come.” 

Last night, several hundred students, parents, and community members attended a memorial vigil at the MSU Rock. 

One MSU sophomore named Rita offered some of her thoughts just over 48 hours after the shooting on MSU’s campus and who planned to attend the vigil. 

“I wouldn’t say that I have been processing,” she said, “And I’ve spoken to a lot of people that I haven’t spoken to in years.  I spoke to a friend last night and we just don’t know how to feel.  We wish there was a handbook that told us how to feel- for me personally it’s been a lot of disassociating and I haven’t quite registered that it happened on Campus, until I go on social media and I see a post from another college supporting or something like that.”  

Attending the sit-in at the Capitol felt like something tangible to do, Rita said, and she knew of many kids that had gone home and that she probably was going to head home soon too after the vigil at the MSU Rock, but going to the Capitol felt like something she had to do first.  

Rita clutched a sign during the ceremony which read “How Am I Supposed to Go to Class in a Room Where a Kid Was Shot?”