DENVER — A student at East High School in Denver shared a poem about gun violence hours before he was shot near campus in February. Luis Garcia’s English teacher is now advocating for safety changes in schools after the death of his student.
“I want to do it the rest of my life, make known that he did not deserve this,” Andy Bucher said.
That day, Bucher told his English class to share a poem with the prompt “My City…”. Garcia talked about gun violence.
“The second to last line said ‘my city is getting shot cause you are in the wrong place at the wrong time,'” Bucher said.
The wrong place was 17th Avenue and Esplanade near East High, where someone shot Garcia hours after he shared that poem.
“All of the class was astounded when it happened, because we were like what?” Bucher said. “We thought it was poetic, not prophetic.”
That day encouraged Bucher to fight for safety changes in and around schools, because his student can’t.
Three weeks after Garcia passed away, police said, another student who needed to be patted down for weapons shot two deans, injuring them.
“I think we need to be proactive, thinking how can we make a change,” Bucher said. “Like, his family has advocated for change that we believe honors his legacy and his life.”
Garcia’s family demanded the return of school resource officers. So did Bucher.
The Denver Public Schools board voted unanimously in 2020 to remove 18 Denver police officers from its schools and rely on the school district’s own safety officers instead.
In June of this year, the board voted 4-3 to bring back SROs.
“I am not an activist. I am not an advocate. I am just a guy who teaches English,” Bucher said. “But at the same time I don’t want us to forget Luis.”
Advocate isn’t a job title Bucher wanted, but talking about school safety was too important for him.
“Changes are possible and I think necessary,” he said.
Bucher wants the community to remember Garcia was a really great kid. His soccer teammates viewed him as a brother. Even as a teenager, Bucher said, Garcia did little things that made a big impact. He credited that to how he was raised by his family.
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