Thousands of students nationwide walked out of their schools on Wednesday to protest gun violence on the one-month anniversary of the Parkland massacre.
Participants in the National School Walkout, a massive protest organized by Youth EMPOWER, a branch of young activists affiliated with the Women’s March, called on Congress to pass stricter gun laws.
The walkouts were set to begin at 10 a.m. in each time zone and last 17 minutes, with each minute representing one of the 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. But students in several states, including New Jersey and Maryland, started marching out of their schools as early as 8 a.m.
Sam Bacon, 18, helped organize a march of hundreds of students at Grace Church School in New York City. The students there have been personally affected by gun violence ― their teacher, Elizabeth Lee, was shot and killed on her way to work in 2017.
“The majority supports common-sense gun reform,” Bacon told HuffPost. “If I as a dumb 18-year-old kid without a college degree can learn about this, support it and activate just by reading the internet, why can’t our elected officials listen to their constituents?”
Today Is The National School Walkout To End Gun Violence.
HuffPost reporter Nina Golgowski spoke to Cindy Hayes Mann, the head of Padua Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in Wilmington, Delaware, that had roughly 550 students participate in the walkout. “I said I hope that you always remember the feeling that you have now because you made a difference today. I felt the same way when I was your age,” Mann told HuffPost about her words to students today. “I was very proud that teenagers then and teenagers now still have a voice.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers union, told HuffPost that the organization would offer legal support to teachers who faced disciplinary action as a result of participating in a school walkout.
When asked about the walkouts today, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told reporters that President Donald Trump “shares the students’ concerns about school safety.” “That is why he supports measures like Fix NICS and mental health provisions,” Shah said. “There’s a series of proposals that the president has rolled out as part of an ongoing conversation to address school violence.”
MASS STUDENT WALK-OUT! Women’s March Partnership w/Empower Youth #GunReformNow
In the days and weeks since the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have shown remarkable courage channeling their emotion into tireless advocacy for gun violence reform.
Their impassioned call to action has inspired other students, teachers, parents, and so many others around the country to lend their voices to an increasingly powerful movement.
You can show your support too. On Saturday, March 24, March For Our Lives — a group created and led by student activists — is organizing a march on Washington to demand that their lives and safety become a priority, and we end our country’s gun violence epidemic.
Attending a march is just the first step.
We need real reform now, and we need to ensure our elected officials make gun reform a priority.
If they won’t, we have to use our voting power to vote for gun safety.
Deputy Campaigns Director
Organizing for Action