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Standing Up Against Violence

By Aliesia Berryman

After the distressing and tragic events that took place at the Eastridge Mall in Casper on April 7 many Casperites are in shock. The community collectively grieves the loss of a fourteen-year-old boy. 

From what I’ve seen, the tragedy made all of us reflect on our city, our schools, and ourselves. As young people in America, it is essential to be aware of and fight against violence. In a press conference with the City of Casper, Natrona County, and the Natrona County School District, Vice Mayor Lisa Engebretson called for people to speak up. 

I doubt there are very many of us who haven’t seen something on social media, in the streets, or at school that called for possible action on our part. Whether or not we took action could have meant life or death for those involved. 

Often in these situations, you may find yourself saying: “It’s not my business.” or “Someone else can deal with it.” Or perhaps you are scared of doing the wrong thing and being ridiculed. I personally like to believe that the world is full of people who are braver and more resilient than me. 

It may be easier to think this way but even if there are some people who are willing to say something, there are never enough. 

I have heard stories of people who were in the right place at the right time and managed to save a life. Each and every one of us are capable of doing that: of standing up for people whose voices aren’t heard. 

Our silence empowers wrongdoers and contributes to a culture of indifference. 

One night, I was inside my apartment when I started hearing shouting on my street. A group of highschool students were in the street—a very busy street I might add— arguing with each other. Cars were coming from both directions. Drivers stopped their cars and honked and yelled at the kids.

The grown adults driving in the cars did nothing. They were more annoyed about not being able to keep moving than anything else. 

Unsure of what to do, I did something probably many of us would have done—I called my mom and asked her what I should do. 

We decided that I would call the non-emergency number. I did so, and a police officer showed up in minutes. The kids were broken up and the street was cleared. 

While my situation did not escalate into violence, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t spoken up. Did I save someone’s life that day? Did I prevent a terrible accident? 

I will probably never know. But if I hadn’t done something- and the situation had escalated, I would not have been able to avoid feeling guilty. 

As we mourn the loss of a young life and grapple with the unsettling realities of our society, let us not succumb to the temptation of passivity. Instead, let us rise to the occasion, emboldened by the belief that each of us has the power to effect change. Together, let us break the chains of silence and pave the way for a future where justice and compassion prevail.

Take care of yourself and each other this summer!

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