Students across US walk out of class to protest


Associated Press

In a wave of demonstrations reaching from Arizona to Maine, students at dozens of U.S. high schools walked out of class Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the victims of last week’s deadly shooting in Florida.

The protests spread from school to school as students shared plans for their demonstrations over social media. Many lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Hundreds of students from Maryland schools left class to rally at the U.S. Capitol. Hundreds more filed out of their schools in cities from Chicago to Pittsburgh to Austin, Texas, often at the lunch hour. Thousands walked out in Florida.

At the protest in Washington, students had a moment of silence in memory of those killed in Parkland and listened as the names of the dead were recited. Daniel Gelillo, a senior at Richard Montgomery High in Rockville, Md., helped organize the protest and said students aimed to pressure lawmakers to act on gun control.

Up until now, he said, nothing has quite fazed them.

“The Orlando shooting, Las Vegas and now Parkland,” he said. “Something has to happen. Innocent people are dying because of the easy access to firearms in this country.”

At Dublin Scioto High School near Columbus, about 200 students sat outside in silence for 17 minutes and wrote notes of support that will be mailed to survivors of the Florida shooting. Afterward, they gathered in a circle to discuss how they could push for stronger gun control.

“No child should have to go to school and be scared for their life,” said Daviyana Warren, a 15-year-old sophomore at the school who walked out. “It hits close to home because it’s happening to us.”

While some groups have worked to organize national demonstrations in the coming weeks, students say gatherings Wednesday were mostly impromptu and organized out of a sense of urgency to find solutions to gun violence.

Many of the protests were accompanied by chants of “Never again,” which has been a rallying cry since the Florida shooting.

“These gun deaths are happening like every day, and we’re not doing anything to change it. It’s ridiculous,” said Rebecca Parch, a student who organized a walkout at Lakewood High School, near Cleveland. “It’s just too many lives lost, and I think that teenagers are just done with it now.”

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