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School Walkouts Were Just The Beginning Of Students’ Activism On Gun Violence
SAN FRANCISCO ― After thousands of students marched out of schools nationwide on Wednesday to honor victims of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting and call for change on gun violence, the student-led wave of activism is far from over.
On Wednesday, students from New York to Nashville to San Francisco walked out of school at 10 a.m. to commemorate the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people were killed, and to push for gun reform.
In the coming months, several more nationwide, student-led rallies are planned to keep attention on the issue and press for legislative action.
On March 24, the nationwide March for Our Lives, led by survivors of the Parkland shooting, will hold rallies in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country. The event is meant to “demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be brought before Congress to address gun issues,” the website says.
“Today was wonderful. Today was important. Today was historical. But sadly, today was not enough,” reads a post on the March for Our Lives website in the wake of Wednesday’s school walkouts. “That is why 10 days from today we’re going to March and demand change… From walkouts, we march on.”
On April 20, another National School Walkout is planned, marking the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The student-led event, organized by teens at Connecticut’s Ridgefield High School and beyond, is meant to protest “congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence,” per the website. Like Wednesday’s rallies, students across the country plan to leave class at 10 a.m., observe a moment of silence for gun violence victims and then hold protests.
“I think that student-led activism is the driving force for change in America,” Saleen, a 17-year-old senior at Lowell High School in San Francisco, told HuffPost Wednesday. “Congress refuses to make the changes that we need, and the only way to get them to listen is to be loud, proud and consistent.”
Beyond the national rallies, some student groups have begun planning further actions at the local level. In Wisconsin, students are planning a four-day, 50-mile march from Madison to the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in Janesville. Kicking off March 25, a day after the March for Our Lives, the 50 Miles More walk is about “keeping the national spotlight on gun reform,” says the website.
There are likely many more local and perhaps national student-led actions to come. Teens at San Francisco’s Lowell High have already scheduled a meeting on Sunday to discuss further actions, Saleen said.
Student organizers at Berkeley High School, across the San Francisco Bay, plan to use their lunch hours in the coming weeks to register and pre-register their peers to vote, as well as to write letters to representatives “demanding common-sense gun reform,” Roni, a 16-year-old Junior at Berkeley High, told HuffPost Wednesday.
“Many mass shootings have occurred and were forgotten,” Almarie, a 17-year-old student organizer at Lowell, told HuffPost on Wednesday. “We have tremendous momentum from this walkout all over the nation ― we need to use this opportunity to continue fighting for our safety. The pressure is the only way we can make change happen.”