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Meet Three Student Journalists at Marjory Stoneman HS Who Survived & Reported on School Shooting

Web ExclusiveMarch 24, 2018
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At the March for Our Lives, Amy Goodman interviews three students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the Feb. 14 shooting—Brianna Fisher, Zoe Gordon and Leni Steinhardt. All three write for The Eagle Eye, the school’s award-winning news magazine.

Watch Democracy Now’s full four-hour special broadcast from the March For Our Lives

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

BRIANNA FISHER: My name is Brianna Fisher, and I’m a sophomore from Parkland, Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. And I’m a staff writer for our school newspaper, The Eagle Eye.

LENI STEINHARDT: Hi. My name is Leni Steinhardt. I’m a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’m also a staff writer at Eagle Eye.

ZOE GORDON: I’m Zoe Gordon. I’m a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. I’m 15 years old. And I’m also a staff writer for The Eagle Eye, magazine editor.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Zoe, let’s start with you. On that terrible day, unbelievably enough, Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the massacre at your school. You’re a reporter. You’re a student. Talk about where you were, your feelings and your thoughts as a journalist.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah. That was a really hard day. And it took—it took me a couple weeks to kind of, I don’t know, just feel a little uplifted again. I know that I had to report on it as a journalist. It’s important to cover what I went through, so that others know and speak up for the voices that were—unfortunately, we lost that day.

AMY GOODMAN: And where were you?

LENI STEINHARDT: Well, I feel like if there is anyone to report on this, it’s us. And it should—because we witnessed everything firsthand, that it should be us like reporting on it and giving the voices out to the world around us.

AMY GOODMAN: That day, the day of the shooting, where were you in school?

LENI STEINHARDT: I was in my chemistry class at the time.

AMY GOODMAN: And was it in the building, the freshman building?

LENI STEINHARDT: It was not in the freshman building, but it was it the building next to it.

AMY GOODMAN: And when did you come to understand what was happening?

LENI STEINHARDT: I don’t think I still came to understand what’s happening. It hasn’t really hit me yet that it’s all actually happening. You know, you hear on schools like Sandy Hook and Columbine, and you never want to imagine your school on the same list as those. So, I don’t think it’s hit any of us yet that it actually happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Did your school—your building lock down right away?

ZOE GORDON: Yeah, yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah. I think everyone went to their location where they had to lock down in. And—

ZOE GORDON: It was just kind of chaotic.

LENI STEINHARDT: It was really chaotic.

AMY GOODMAN: And where were you?

BRIANNA FISHER: I was in my AP world history classroom, which is in the back of the school, like facing the highway, so it was kind of the farthest from the building where the shooting happened that it could be. So, I was able to evacuate and leave during that day. But like, I still think it’s so crazy that like while I was able to evacuate, other people weren’t. So like just what Leni said, like I still don’t think I’ve been able to come to terms with what’s happening, because like I went home that night and saw the news. It’s like weird when you look up my school, and this is the first thing that comes up, instead of like our school website or like the environmental activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: So, like, it just like still doesn’t make sense.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about when you moved into journalism gear. I mean, you have done so much in this month. Did you all just edit The Guardian newspaper?

BRIANNA FISHER: Yeah.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah. The opportunity was given to us. And we were—like I said before, like if it’s us reporting on this, it should be.

WOMAN IN NBC NEWS HAT: Can we just move? We’ve got to get some people out. We’ve got to get out of this area. You can go out.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to walk outside of this area, bringing the students with us. They’re going to get their things. We’re in the midst of this interview, but that’s the way it goes on this day of the March for Our Lives. These are three student journalists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And here they come. Again, your name, for people who are just joining us.

BRIANNA FISHER: My name’s Brianna Fisher, and I’m a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, you all had the opportunity to—

BRIANNA FISHER: They’re coming.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s see. We’re trying to get Leni and Zoe.

UNIDENTIFIED: You’re going to have to stand over this side. I’m sorry.

AMY GOODMAN: Leni, can you come for one sec? Thank you. Just for one sec. For one sec? OK, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED: Back up from the gate. You’re stopping at the walkway here.

AMY GOODMAN: OK. So, you were talking about editing The Guardian newspaper.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: What does this mean for you? You were both—you’re a sophomore, and you’re?

LENI STEINHARDT: Oh, I’m also a sophomore. I mean, it’s an amazing opportunity. They’re amazing—they’re a amazing publication. And I think it was really an honor to work alongside them through this and really show us the true side of journalism.

BRIANNA FISHER: It’s great that they’re letting us use their platform and to let us speak out and share our voices, so it’s not just Parkland, Florida, who hears us, and that’s the rest of the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, what sign are you carrying, Zoe, on this day?

ZOE GORDON: I wrote this—I made a sign, that has a front and back.

AMY GOODMAN: Read it to us.

ZOE GORDON: It says, “On February 14, I should have been studying for world history. Instead I was praying that the shooter wouldn’t come into my classroom next.” And it’s kind of like impactful. And the other side says, “Here’s an equation for you: Love over guns.” And then it says, “Books over bullets, number two pencils over AR-15s, and A’s over PTSD.”

So, it just—both are kind of very meaningful to me and very impactful, especially the first one, because it’s my story. I was planning to go home that day. I was planning to skip the end so that I can study for my big AP world test the next day. I was stressed out. After I finished my math lesson, I was like reaching in my bag to get my world history book, textbook, to start studying, right when everything was happening. It’s just so crazy.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was a month ago.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Here we are, March 24th, the March for Our Lives, that was started by you.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: That was started by you, the sophomores, the juniors and the seniors, survivors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In fact, who is Marjory Stoneman Douglas? Who is your school named for?

BRIANNA FISHER: She’s actually an environmental activist for the Everglades.

ZOE GORDON: She saved the Everglades, yeah. She saved the Everglades.

AMY GOODMAN: So, she was an activist, as well.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yes.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: So, if anything, she’s the one who really set the example for us, because if you want to reach an end goal, you have to reach out and do it, even if everyone’s telling you not to.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: So—

AMY GOODMAN: And what are you demanding on this day?

LENI STEINHARDT: Change.

BRIANNA FISHER: Just change.

LENI STEINHARDT: Change. It doesn’t matter how we get there or how long it takes. We want change.

BRIANNA FISHER: And we just want to make schools a safer place, so people don’t have to go to school fearing their lives.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: What are your thoughts on what happened in the Florida Legislature, clearly a pro-gun legislature for so many years? What happened there? And then, what about your Congress, the U.S. Congress, here in Washington?

ZOE GORDON: Well, we have seen some change.

AMY GOODMAN: Zoe?

ZOE GORDON: We’ve seen some change before. We’ve seen—ever since then, we’ve seen the age go up from 18 to 21 in our state to buy like a gun. So that’s—

AMY GOODMAN: Not quite here yet, in Washington.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah, no, not yet. But we still have—

BRIANNA FISHER: But background checks.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah, and background checks. We still have a long way to go, but I know it’s the baby steps that will take us to the end goal.

LENI STEINHARDT: They need to know that in two or three years, we’re the voters. So, we know their names, and we know their positions, and we’re going to vote them out.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: So they need to know that.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you considering running yourself?

LENI STEINHARDT: Oh, gosh, no. I’m going to head down the journalism route.

AMY GOODMAN: Brianna?

BRIANNA FISHER: I want to go more in a career of like politics, and, like, I want to become a criminal prosecutor. But I don’t know if I would see myself in the Senate, but definitely have some influence and make sure that we can have change.

AMY GOODMAN: And your thoughts on the shooter today?

LENI STEINHARDT: We don’t like to discuss him. He’s—

BRIANNA FISHER: Yeah, like he doesn’t deserve any more media attention or any attention at all.

AMY GOODMAN: And what you’re demanding of Congress right now, here in Washington, D.C., and the president of the United States? One of the things he said—President Trump has called for the arming of teachers. Your thoughts?

ZOE GORDON: No, I do not like that at all.

BRIANNA FISHER: I do not think that’s smart at all.

LENI STEINHARDT: The whole point of this is to take guns—like, to take these—

BRIANNA FISHER: To limit guns.

LENI STEINHARDT: To limit weapons and to limit guns. And I’m not going to be safe in an environment where there’s more guns. And—

BRIANNA FISHER: There’s just so many logistical things that don’t make sense.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: Like, if there was a shooter, but a gun’s locked up in a safe in a closet, there wouldn’t be time to go get it. So, that’s pointless.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah, it’s just—yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: And then, where are they going to get funding for it? Like—

ZOE GORDON: Yeah, it’s just like adding fire to fire. It’s not going to make any change. Why would you put more guns into a situation, when we’re trying to get rid of them? It’s just—what happens if the teacher is crazy?

BRIANNA FISHER: Just doesn’t make sense.

ZOE GORDON: It’s like—it’s not practical at all. And they don’t have the funding for it, either. They can’t—last year they couldn’t give us paper for two weeks. How are they supposed to give each teacher a gun? It doesn’t make sense.

AMY GOODMAN: You’ll be marching at the front of this rally today and speaking on the stage. What’s happening at the end, with 17 people standing up?

ZOE GORDON: Oh, I don’t—we don’t know much about that.

BRIANNA FISHER: We’re not sure. Actually, we’re going to be in the, like, Douglas section. Because for our newspaper, we’re also reporting, so we’re going to be interviewing people and talking to different—because people who are speaking, the celebrities, so we’re not sure of the physical like plan of the march. We’re just going to be right in the front the whole time, like experiencing everything.

LENI STEINHARDT: Alongside our fellow classmates and faculty.

AMY GOODMAN: And then you head back to Florida tomorrow?

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

BRIANNA FISHER: Tonight.

ZOE GORDON: Actually, tonight.

LENI STEINHARDT: Tonight, yeah.

ZOE GORDON: Right after the march, yeah.

LENI STEINHARDT: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: To go back to school on Monday?

BRIANNA FISHER: No, we actually have spring break this week.

LENI STEINHARDT: Spring break, yeah. Much needed.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, what was it like to return to school after the mass shooting?

ZOE GORDON: It actually felt somewhat nice to come back to school, because you saw all this love from—

BRIANNA FISHER: Yeah.

ZOE GORDON: —like the outpouring of love from the entire country, not just local schools, but from literally every single one. So, I just loved seeing my teachers again. And even though it’s like hard going to classes where some of my classmates that unfortunately didn’t make it out, like they were in that class, it was hard, but it was just so nice seeing the ones that were there and seeing them alive.

BRIANNA FISHER: Yes. I needed it, because I needed to go to school, make sure that my teachers were OK and my fellow classmates were OK, because there is so much that we can do. And like, I just needed to care for them. And then, like even though it’s not going to be normal anymore, I just needed that sense of normality, of going to school and seeing everyone and being able to get work to take my mind off of things.

LENI STEINHARDT: You know, we really had to rip the Band-Aid off, because if we didn’t go back then, when would we have gone back? We had to start somewhere. And it’s all just baby steps. And eventually, we’ll have our new normal back.

AMY GOODMAN: And I finally wanted to ask you, as journalists, here you’re covering gun violence. So often it has been raised that when there is gun violence in a mainly white community, it gets a lot more attention than in communities of color.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: More children of color are killed by guns, proportionately, than certainly any other group.

ZOE GORDON: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts on this, and how you cover this, Zoe?

ZOE GORDON: Well, that’s—as a part of The Eagle Eye, we’re actually trying to get more people from the Black Lives movement to raise their voices on this, too, so that everyone has a voice. It’s not just about our community, but it’s about others that are impacted by this. So we’re really just trying to give everyone a voice here.

BRIANNA FISHER: Well, The Guardian is actually speaking to some people from that community and allowing them to help write pieces, so it’s just great to get their opinions and their voice on the issue, too.

LENI STEINHARDT: This is a platform for anyone. And I feel like if anyone wants to voice their voice, and anyone wants to speak about this, it touches everyone and affects everyone in their own way, so it’s a platform for everyone. So…

AMY GOODMAN: Leni, Brianna and Zoe, thank you so much.

BRIANNA FISHER: Thank you.

ZOE GORDON: Thank you.

LENI STEINHARDT: Thank you for having us.

AMY GOODMAN: And our condolences and also our enormous praise on what you’re doing today.

ZOE GORDON: Thank you.

BRIANNA FISHER: Thank you.

LENI STEINHARDT: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you. This is Democracy Now! You’re seeing three young people, young journalists, from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, she was a pioneer. She was a suffragette. She was one of the women who helped save—the key figure in saving the Everglades. That’s who their school is named after. This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, broadcasting from the March for Our Lives, Washington, D.C., 800 sibling marches all over the country.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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