'Enough': US students come together in spectacular walkout to end gun violence
US gun control 'Enough': US students come together in spectacular walkout to end gun violence
- About 3,000 schools across America protest in coordinated riposte
- Students march step out of classrooms to spur action for change
- Walkout Wednesday â" live updates
Thousands of students poured out of classrooms in the United States on Wednesday in an unprecedented expression of mourning and a demand for action to stem the countryâs epidemic of gun violence.
In a stunning visual riposte to the public inertia that has followed mass shootings in the United States, crowds of students at an estimated 3,000 schools across the country marched on to running tracks, through parking lots and around building perimeters, carrying signs that read âEnoughâ and chanting, âHey hey, ho ho, gun violence has got to goâ.Wednesday walkout: students step out of class to spur action on gun control â" live Read more
The walkout fell one month after a student gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, in the deadliest high school shooting in the countryâs history. Survivors of that ma ssacre joined other student activists to organize Wednesdayâs demonstration, which was promoted by the Womenâs March movement that sprang up after the election of Donald Trump.
âThere were lots of emotions, many people were crying, we were thinking of the 17 we lost,â said Florence Yared, a third-year student at Stoneman Douglas, who joined 3,000 of her schoolmates on the schoolâs football pitch, where exactly one month ago many were running for their lives.
Students elsewhere filled sidewalks in Brooklyn, kneeled in hallways in a Georgia high school, stood silently in a row in Virginia, and sat in a group with backs turned on the White House. Most demonstrations were planned to last 17 minutes, one for each of the Parkland victims.
In some school districts, students gathered against the warnings of administrators. At Booker T Washington high school in Atlanta, Georgia â" once attended by Martin Luther King â" a public announcement warned that any pr otester who left school hallways would incur âswift and severe consequencesâ.
âDr King carries a legacy even in death,â said Markail Brooks, a senior. âSo I feel as if itâs an obligation to carry on what he wanted and what he was trying to fight for and thatâs why this day is very importantâ.
At an elementary school in Alexandria, Virginia, children synchronized their watches and a captain in each room led students outside two minutes before the planned 10am protest start time.
âSome parents have felt that weâre not old enough to know about it,â said one student, Carter, 11, about school shootings. âThey think because weâre fifth-graders we donât know anything about whatâs happening.â
Another student, Henry Gibbs, 10, said: âJust the sensation that we are going to make a difference makes me feel proud.â
In Chicago, public schools changed class schedules to accommodate the walkouts, while the archdiocese announced that about 80,000 students at 200 Catholic schools would participate in assemblies to discuss gun violence.
The protesters called for new gun safety legislation, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and the introduction of universal background checks. They also opposed the additional fortification of schools with fences and armed guards, policies endorsed by the NRA, Americaâs powerful gun lobby group.
The NRAâs ânational school s hieldâ proposal to prevent school shootings calls for the âhardeningâ of school sites with not only armed guards and armed teachers but also the elimination of trees, parking lots and some windows, and the construction of fences.
âLetâs work together to secure our schools and stop school violence,â the NRA said as the walkouts began. Neither Trump nor the White House offered a statement.
At the Academy for Young Writers high school in Spring Creek, Brooklyn, New York, students used the walkout to also bring attention to discrimination against people of color, women, and other groups.
âOur protest brings together many things and I do empathize with those in Parkland in Florida, but this is Brooklyn, East New York, and we have our own separate struggles and I wanted to advocate for that as well,â said Nathaniel Swanson, 16.
âWe have policing [issues]. Discrimination in housing [and the] workforce. Gentrification is really getting bad in Br ooklyn. Gun violence â¦ these are the things that happen in our community.â
The youthful protesters seemed to be the latest indicator that a carapace of resistance to gun policy changes in the United States could be cracking. Recent polling has indicated that as many as seven in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws, the highest such figure in 20 years.
A recent Monmouth University poll found that 83% of Americans support requiring comprehensive background checks for all gun purchasers, including private sales between two individuals. Among NRA members, 69% support comprehensive background checks, the poll found.
The gun policy reform group Everytown for Gun Safety reported a 25% leap in members in the two weeks after the Parkland shooting, and at least 20 corporations changed age limits for buying guns or stopped selling some semi-automatic rifles altogether after the shooting, according to activists.
âWhile Congress sits on its hands, students like m y son will stand and walk out of school this morning to demand action on gun violence,â tweeted Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, on Wednesday morning. âNext we march. Then we vote to #ThrowThemOut.â
Gun safety activists are focused on the midterm elections in November as an opportunity to expunge pro-gun legislators, whose ranks are increasingly out of proportion with the national mood.Drive them to a march. Buy their gas. Whatever it takes, support all kids marching today Read more
As protesters filled the streets, the Senate judiciary committee convened a hearing on school safety in light of the Parkland massacre. Republican chairman Chuck Grassley gave voice to âthe imminence and necessity of passing some legislation quicklyâ but he hewed in his questioning to minor proposals that even the NRA supports, such as the banning of certain gun accessories.
Multiple gun control bills are currently pendi ng in the US Congress, including bills that fit with the student protestersâ demands relating to assault weapons and background checks. But Congress in the past has repeatedly taken up such legislation, only to shelve it, year after year, including in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Ninety-six Americans are killed each day by guns, and Americans overall are â25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countriesâ, gun control advocates say.
In Connecticut, Washington and New York, the signs were hoisted by growing hands: âDisarm hateâ, Protect kids not gunsâ and âWe call BS.â
On the football pitch in Parkland, Florida, the students listened to a recording of the song Shine â" âheaven let your light shine downâ â" as sympathy banners sent from around the world draped an adjacent building.
Then, 17 minutes later, the students filed back inside.Topics
- US gun control
- Florida school shooting
- US politics
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Pinterest
- Share on Google+
- Share on WhatsApp
- Share on Messenger
- Reuse this content