Emotions, politics boil over ahead of Oxford student march about gun violence

Posted at 9:11 PM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 21:11:16-04

(WXYZ) — Gun violence is on everyone’s mind after the recent deadly Texas school shooting, and it remains very emotional in Oxford. It’s been 6 months since the mass shooting inside Oxford High School when a gunman killed four students, and injured seven including a teacher.

Their difficult school year ends on Friday.

On Saturday, a student-driven event planned for Centennial Park is already generating new, highly-charged political controversy. It boiled over during a special village council meeting last night.

The event this weekend was organized by Oxford students, and then another national group joined in.

"Our team is very passionate about it. We've been working for several months kind of in the dark working through it until we believed we were ready to launch," said Aubrey Greenfield.

Sophia Ziegler says, "We will be having speakers and the small sort of rally at Centennial Park and then we’ll be marching and walking up to the high school to have a moment of silence and then back down to conclude our march."

Greenfield and Ziegler are in the local group called No Future Without Today. A national group called March For Our Lives is also holding rallies on Saturday across the country, now including Oxford, Waterford, Detroit and others.

The talking points for the rallies include proposed safe gun storage laws, red flag gun laws, and universal background checks.

The politics boiled over for many at last night’s Oxford village council, a special meeting held to approve the students’ event.

"We don’t have a gun problem, in my opinion. What we do have is a serious people problem," said Ron Piotnowski, an Oxford resident.

Oxford parent Thomas Parks said, "I would much rather see them do this on their own, rather than with this organization."

Some spoke out for free speech for the students.

"You need to let this happen and make it work," said George Stoffan, an Oxford parent.

There was a question about the event needing to have liability insurance, but the village council voted to allow the event without it. That prompted one woman to respond.

"This is to advise you that on June 11 there will be a counter-rally at the location," said Evelyn Piotrowski.

We caught up with her today at her home. She declined an on-camera interview.

But what did she mean there would be another group taking on the students?

She said she made the comment out of emotion, adding she doesn't know if there will be a counter protest.

"This is a peaceful protest. What good would it do to not be peaceful. We’re asking for peace in our schools, peace in our lives," said Andrea Smault, an Oxford parent.

A couple of people here in Oxford have heard this buildup and are concerned Second Amendment gun rights advocates could show up there, with their guns.

It will all play out on Saturday.