Thousands of US Students Participate in Powerful Walkouts to End Gun Violence

I have been teaching for almost 25 years and I have never been so impressed by the power, eloquence and fierce passion of my students as I was on March 14, the day of the National School Walkout.

Michelle Kleytman is a junior at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, CA, where I teach, and she explained, “It started out as a small grassroots student movement and then it manifested and snowballed into this huge movement.”

The entire student body, around 450 young people, and many staff, faculty and parents, all moved together, past 17 empty desks honoring the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, and made their way to the sidewalk in front of the school.

never-again

Photo Credit: Screenshot from CBS online video

First there was chanting: “No More Silence. End Gun Violence,” and “Enough Is Enough.”

At 10 am, we were all perfectly silent for 17 minutes, except that every 60 seconds a bell was rung and a student announced the name of a Parkland victim: Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Scott Beigel, 35. Many of us were wiping away tears as we stood in silence, arms locked.

blood-on-your-hands

Photo Credit: Screenshot from CBS online video

At 10:17 we made our way indoors where four students, one for each grade level, made rousing speeches calling for gun control and encouraging students to register to vote.

Every bit of this protest, while supported by the administration, was organized and led by the students themselves.

Around the U.S, hundreds of thousands more students walked out of their classrooms at 10 am, taking part in this national school protest demanding stronger gun laws, exactly one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that left 17 people dead.

In all, students at an estimated 3,000 schools across the country poured onto sidewalks, parking lots and around building perimeters carrying signs decrying gun violence and belting out chants like, “Hey hey, ho ho, gun violence has got to go.”

“There were lots of emotions, many people were crying. We were thinking of the 17 we lost, “ said Florence Yared, a junior at Stoneman Douglas, who was gathered with 3,000 of her fellow students on the school’s football pitch.

Brooklyn-National-School-Walkout-Day

Photo Credit: By Rhododendrites (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Students filled the streets of New York City and gathered in central locations like Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (see above), and Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, Battery Park and Lincoln Center.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo lay down on the sidewalk in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, taking part in a “die-in” organized by students there.

DC-Photo-National-Walkout-Day

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering

In Washington D.C., thousands of young people left their classrooms to march to the Capitol steps, chanting and holding signs carrying important messages, like the one above.

All across the U.S., young protestors were out in force, calling for new gun safety legislation, including a ban on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and for universal background checks.

In one short month, the young survivors of the Parkland massacre have achieved what many thought was impossible, including pushing Florida Governor Rick Scott to break with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and sign legislation to strengthen gun control in Florida.

Student movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement, have brought about monumental changes in the past.

In 2018, facing a Congress in thrall to the NRA and refusing to take any action on gun control, the youth of America are again leading the voice of resistance.

 

Photo Credit: Screenshot from CBS online video

106 comments

John J
John J17 days ago

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John J
John J17 days ago

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Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson6 months ago

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DAVID fleming
Dave f7 months ago

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DAVID f
Dave f7 months ago

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One Heart i
One Heart inc7 months ago

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Jack Y
Jack Y7 months ago

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Jack Y
Jack Y7 months ago

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John J
John J7 months ago

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