Students across the country took a stand against gun violence on Wednesday, March 14th, opting to walk out of their classrooms at 10 am for 17 minutes to stand in solidarity with the 17 victims of February’s deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, FL. Following the morning’s protests, the hashtag #NationalWalkOutDay has been top trending as more and more young people and their voting-aged peers have frank discussions about what it means to meaningfully protest and what can best be done to prevent another tragedy like what happened in Parkland.
The shooting was, sadly and unfortunately, one of many that have ravaged schools and businesses across America in the last few years. Students wanted to take a stand to show that this sort of unnecessary carnage will no longer be tolerated and have organized independently — with the guidance of the survivors of the Parkland shooting — to demand changes to gun laws in the United States. One goal of the protest is to push for teenagers to be unable to purchase assault rifles.
According to USA Today, students in Parkland gathered on the football field chanting “We want change!” as they ignored administrators requests to head back into the school. They joined those participating at the nearby middle school in a two mile walk to a memorial that was set up for the victims.
Delaney Tarr, one student activist and survivor from MSD tweeted “#NeverAgain,” promising to join the walk out and continue fighting in honor of victims of gun violence.
Today, 1 month after of the day that changed our lives forever, we will join the school walkout. We will join the walkout for every one of those 17, and for every other victim of gun violence. We will join for those that are still here. We will join for you. #NeverAgain
— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) March 14, 2018
More than 3,000 schools across the country participated in the walkout in protest of the ease with which guns are purchased and brought into a school and to protest congress members who they perceive to have a greater allegiance to the National Rifle Association (NRA) than they do to their constituents.
At some walk-outs, students engaged in different more-local demonstrations. Some had additional moments of silence for gun violence victims from their areas, others laid down to further illustrate their concern over the realities and risks of gun violence.
Every student at this walkout suddenly lay down and now their parents are watching and taking photos of this and everyone is totally silent. pic.twitter.com/aZNe66uUD4
— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) March 14, 2018
While schools (teachers and students) were participating, representatives and activists on Capitol Hill were delivering speech after speech about gun violence and the need for ratification.
On this #NationalWalkoutDay can we adults finally resolve to make our schools safe for students? No one should go to school afraid that gun violence may erupt in their classroom. I commend all those fighting to change our dangerous gun laws. @Bradybuzz @MomsDemand
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) March 14, 2018
Following the walk-out, students at most schools returned to class to resume their school days. However, as Carly Novell, a senior at MSD and survivor of the February 14 shooting, noted on Twitter, the conversation is far from over: “I went back to class and everything was normal. Everyone is happy,” Novell wrote on Twitter. “Me and my 3 friends here aren’t. This isn’t 17 minutes for us, this is the rest of our lives. Keep talking and keep listening.