Local students face backlash after speaking out against gun violence

MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — Marshall County High School junior Keaton Conner has been very vocal about student safety after a deadly shooting at her school.

“Speaking out at first was very easy. It was easy, because I didn’t realize just how vicious people can be,” says Conner.

Strangers posting on social media, have been saying things like: “Another rich, spoiled brat trying to get attention,” and “From the lips of my son, what kind of retard marches to demand their rights be taken away,” and “Why weren’t you shot?”

“Seeing these negative comments, it’s hurtful, but it could be a lot worse,” says Conner. “You know, I could show up to school tomorrow and this could happen all over again.”

Conner says she’s speaking out for the kids who can’t and for the ones whose parents won’t let them. “I’m sure it would be a lot easier on my parents if I didn’t speak out. You know, they wouldn’t be getting Facebook remarks. They wouldn’t have friends of their own saying these things.”

Conner says most of the backlash started once her story got more attention. Then, on Saturday, she and other students hosted the Marshall County March for Our Lives rally where they spoke out against gun violence, and that irritated some classmates.

Mitch Coy was the emcee at the rally. Students have made it a point to include him in what’s going on.

“They’re staying strong,” says Coy. “They have moments where they’re upset, where it gets to them. But they feel like what they did was right and that they would do it again.”

“There are kids at school. Nobody said anything to my face, but there have been childish social media posts,” says Conner.

But for the most part, Conner says it’s the adults saying things online such as: “Same type of brats eating Tide pods,” or “Liberal brainwashed kids who are brainwashed by your liberal teachers,” and “They need to change some of their own attitudes at school. After all, one of their own did the shooting.”

“A good portion of the adults who are bullying kids are probably turning around saying, ‘Well, just don’t bully kids, and that’s going to solve the problem,'” says Coy.

“If people want to hate me, that’s their own problem,” says Conner. “Because, at the end of the day, if this happens to them or their child, they’ll have to deal with the fact that they were sitting at home on Facebook belittling a 16-year-old girl who is just trying to make a difference.”

Conner says she will not be silenced. She and other students are continuing to move forward, planning more way to bring awareness to student safety and gun violence.

Marshall County School Superintendent Trent Lovett says the school hasn’t received any reports about backlash from classmates after the rally. He says if they did, they would have addressed the situation and continued to follow up. The school is encouraging students to come forward and report their concerns.

Related articles:
Students rally for change at Marshall County March for Our Lives
Local students plan their own March of Our Lives rally
Marshall County students talk school safety with Gov. Bevin
Marshall County students rally for action at Kentucky Capitol

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