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Valley Journals

At council meeting, High school student recites poem about gun violence

May 18, 2018 09:58AM ● By Holly Vasic

Saida Dahir reading her poem during the April 11 , 2018 council meeting. to the council members (Holly Vasic/City Journals)

By Holly Vasic | h.vasic@mycityjournals.com

On April 11, South Salt Lake Council Member At-Large Mark Kindred invited a special guest, 17-year-old Saida Dahir to open the regular council meeting by reciting a poem she had written. The piece was originally intended for the March for Our Lives protest Dahir was involved in at the State Capitol. The topic of protecting America’s youth from gun violence in schools continues on until this day, as Dahir’s poem and the March for Our Lives movement pleads for an answer.

Dahir is a junior at the Academy for Math Engineering and Science and is part of South Salt Lake’s Youth City Council. She has been writing from a young age. “Somalia is known as the land of the poets so I guess you could say poetry is in my blood,” she said.

As a high school student, the potential for a school shooting is a reality. “Every day I am in constant fear. When the fire alarm goes off or when the principal makes an announcement or simple things like seeing people run in the halls,” said Dahir. As a writer, when the March for Our Lives rally was being organized, Dahir, one of the youth organizers, knew she wanted to read a poem and had the opportunity to do so.

Dahir originally wrote the poem after the Parkland, Florida shooting to convey her feelings.

The council was impressed with Dahir after her reading. Sharla Beverly of District 3 said she appreciated the poem and At-Large Council Member Ray deWolfe followed by saying, “That was a hell of a poem.” District 5 Council Member Shane Siwik and District 2 Council Member Corey Thomas echoed the amazement. “It’s exciting to see younger generations being that active now, it gives me hope for the future,” Thomas said.

Portia Mila, Council Member of District 4, had heard the poem at the rally via Facebook. “I think it was really cool to have her here as well,” Mila said. Kindred arranged for Dahir to speak as opposed to having one of the council members conduct a moment of reflection as is the norm for the opening of a regular council meeting. He was grateful to have her there and was sorry she did not have a larger audience.

Dahir said at the council meeting that a few days after the Parkland shooting there was a shooting threat at her school in Cottonwood Heights. “This is not just a national epidemic,” she said, “it could happen in your home, it could happen to your students, to your children.”

The fear of school shootings has prompted Dahir and her peers to constantly look for a good place to hide or an escape. “At a young age, I made sure to look for the closest exit in whatever room I walked into so just in case something bad happened I would have a place to hide,” Dahir said.

Dahir sees a bright future for herself as a journalist, an activist, and with her work on South Salt Lake’s Youth City Council and as a March for Our Lives youth organizer.

To watch Dahir reciting the poem at the city council meeting go to the South Salt Lake website, it starts at approximately 1:00 and goes until 6:30.