A student-organized lie-in took place as planned on the Drillfield today, with upward of 50 individuals participating.
Though there had previously been controversy regarding a potential political agenda and rumors of a counter-protest, speakers at the event clarified their intentions, and the event was met with just minimal opposition.
A large banner reading, "God Bless Virginia Tech," and volunteers passing out maroon and orange ribbons greeted students approaching the shaded area between Davidson Hall and the agriculture quad.
Alison St. Onge, a senior environmental science major, addressed the media and participants first, stating that those lying down were doing so to remember and honor those who were killed last April.
"It hurts, and I'm pretty sure it's never going to stop hurting," St. Onge said. "Though the bad things in our life stick out more, always remember the good. I stand here today to honor those lost."
After St. Onge spoke, her mother, Candace, stood behind the podium and brought the issue of the since dubbed "gun show loophole" to the audience's attention. Candace St. Onge also defended her daughter's decision to continue with the lie-in, despite opposition claiming it was disrespectful.
"This is a college campus where ideas are shared," Candace St. Onge said. "It can provide comfort to some families to know that some good has come from their passing. My heart still breaks for Nicole (White)'s family, and my daughter."
While the lie-in passed without incident for the most part, local criminal lawyer Joseph Graham Painter was at the scene to protest their appearance, supporting what he claimed to be a "political" stunt and not a "remembrance" for the victims. Painter stood behind the speakers wearing a sign that read "Brady Go Home, Show Some Respect." Painter, a '69 alumnus of Tech, said the Brady Campaign against gun violence was a sham, that administrators within the organization are scamming potential donors for personal benefit. The lie-in, Painter said, was a typical event aimed to confuse participants in their safety-oriented organizations real goal.
"This is a political event not a commemoration of the victims. This is a pure Brady type of demonstration. The more people know about Brady, the more you know they are just a political organization, a political lobby to bring more money in for themselves." Painter said. "I get tickled when people say "gun show loophole." For there to be a loop hole there has to be a law, technically speaking. (Demonstrating against the protest of "easy guns") is a chance to stand up and say, 'Brady, you're liars.'"
Painter claimed the statistics the Brady campaign are falsely cited, mainly the statistic that 32 people die everyday from firearms.
Lori Haas and Anne Goddard also gave speeches before the lie-in took place, pleading with those in attendance to begin to make a difference before it is too late. Lori is the mother of Emily Haas, and Anne is the mother of Colin Goddard, two students injured in Norris Hall.
Haas noted that the nation needs to work to close the "gun show loophole," sparking considerable emotion from her listeners.
"As members of this community, we have witnessed pain and lives destroyed," Haas said. "I look at these bright young faces and know that there should be more."