By Erica Thomas
August 21, 2014
Credit : Courtesy of Erica Thomas.

Gun violence in America is reaching new heights, and so many young people die from gun violence daily.

It’s a very scary thought to walk outside to go to school and not know if you will make it back home. We see it so much now that we are immune to it. When I saw on the news that Mike Brown was shot to death I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t scream like I did when I heard about Columbine.

I didn’t cry like I did when I heard about the D.C snipper. Now, I am outraged and angry because this is the new “norm.”

When I heard that a police officer shot and killed a young man that was going to college I was flabbergasted. Who do you call when the police are murdering. I knew then it was time to go to Ferguson, MO.

My journey to Ferguson was inspiring. I am apart of National Action Network’s Youth Move, and we have brought seven young people to Ferguson. We decided to drive to Ferguson to speak with the young people about mobilizing and what is next after these rallies.

While there, we helped bring food and water to the peaceful protesters. We spoke with people from all over the country. One group came all the way from Omaha, NE, to protest.

It was great to see young people coming together from all over the country to stand up against police brutality. Although it hurt my heart to see other protesters with signs saying “Support Darren Wilson.”

Darren Wilson is the alleged police officer who shot and killed Mike Brown. It made the crowd very angry to see those signs.

The first rally we attended one was very peaceful, where Generation Progress Gun Violence Prevention Action Network Regional Director Mary-Pat Hector spoke. She encouraged young people to stop looting and be peaceful.

The second rally we attended was peaceful as well, where Reverend Al Sharpton spoke about the 12 percent voter turnout in Ferguson and how we need to vote to make a real change.

At the end of the second one, we went outside and I started chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Everyone repeated after me. It had to be at least 700 people in the crowd.

I yelled until my voice left me, then I began to march down the road and everyone followed. It felt so good to be apart of that. I believe that Millennials should see Ferguson as young people standing up for what they believe is right!

It is important to fight for our future.


Erica Thomas is a member of Generation Progress’ Gun Violence Prevention Action Network and wrote this op-ed after her experience in Ferguson, MO, following the fatal shooting of Mike Brown.

Get updates on these issues and more! Sign up to receive email updates on the latest actions, events, and updates impacting 18- to 35-year-olds.