National School Walkout Commemorates Florida School Shooting
Students across the country are staging 17-minute protests at 10 am in their time zones.
NYT (“National School Walkout: Live Updates“):
Thousands of students, emboldened by a growing protest movement over gun violence, stood up in their classrooms on Wednesday and walked out of their schools in a nationwide demonstration, one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Florida.
The 17-minute protests unfolding at hundreds of schools are intended to pressure Congress to approve gun control legislation after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and come 10 days before major protests in Washington and elsewhere.
Here’s what to know:
• The first large wave of students began to leave their classrooms at 10 a.m. Eastern time. Across the country, others are scheduled to walk out at 10 a.m. in their local time zones.
• The demonstrations were not limited to school property. In Washington, sign-clutching students gathered outside the White House and on Capitol Hill.
• School administrators have been grappling with how to respond. Some districts welcomed or even tacitly encouraged walkouts, while others threatened disciplinary action against students who participate.
• It is unlikely that officials in Washington will quickly heed the demands of the students. Although Florida last week raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and extended the waiting period to three days, President Trump on Monday abandoned his pledge to seek national-level reforms that the National Rifle Association opposed.
• The walkouts join a long history of student protests in America. And on Saturday, March 24, students are expected to gather in Washington and other cities for the March for Our Lives coordinated by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor. More walkouts are planned on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
• At 10 a.m., the entertainment company Viacom suspended regular programming on its cable channels. During the break, which lasted 17 minutes, MTV, VH1 and another Viacom network, Logo, highlighted the work and words of young anti-gun violence activists around the country, while other Viacom networks, including BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, aired messages of support for the walkouts.
NBC (“National school walkout marks month since Parkland mass shooting“):
They solemnly spilled onto the high school football field, holding signs protesting gun violence and wearing shirts that read “March for our lives.” They waved at a crowd of onlookers who had gathered to show support.
Exactly one month after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School here in Parkland, survivors of the massacre joined tens of thousands of students across the U.S. in a national walkout Wednesday morning.
The 10 a.m. protest lasted 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims killed at the high school. The purpose, according to organizers, was to highlight “Congress’ inaction against the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”
Organized by the Women’s March, an estimated 185,000 people in 50 states joined the walkout. Approximately 3,100 schools said they were going to participate, an organizer told NBC News ahead of the walkout.
The marches ranged in size. At Terre Haute North Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana, walkout organizer Elisabeth Downing, a senior, said about 60 students stood in silence, many wearing orange — the color representing calls for more gun control.
“No matter what you decide the action to be, we just want action. We’re tired of thoughts and prayers and we’re ready to finally do something,” she said.
In Rhode Island, where a nor’easter on Tuesday dumped up to a foot of snow in some places, students weren’t able to march outside — so about 250 students at Pilgrim High School in Warwick walked from their classrooms to the auditorium instead.
“That could have been us. We were the same age as the Parkland kids. It was a very emotionally moving experience to be part of,” said co-organizer Karly Evans, a senior.
In Washington, D.C., a crowd in the thousands gathered, holding signs toward the White House with slogans such as “Books Not Bullets” and “Fire Politicians, Not Guns” on them.
At the stroke of 10 a.m., the crowd sat down en masse, their backs to the White House, and started a 17-minute-long moment of silence. Afterwards, some marched to Capitol Hill, with plans to meet with legislators.
In Parkland, the crowd cheered as students exited the high school and gathered in the center of the football field. Some onlookers yelled “We love you!” to the students.
While we’re almost certainly not going to get meaningful action from this Congress anytime soon, this protest movement certainly seems to be gaining momentum. It’s not obvious to me why this particular incident, among so many, seems to have been the final straw. Given that Republicans have been lock-step behind the NRA, this may add to the Democratic wave building as we head towards the November midterms.