Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Students across the US protest violence

WALKOUTS:Students from elementary schools up to universities joined the demonstrations, including some from schools that were the site of mass shootings

AP

Students make their way up East Washington Avenue toward the state capitol building during a walkout to protest gun violence on Wednesday in Madison, Wisconsin.

Photo: AP / Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal

They bowed their heads in honor of the dead. They carried signs with messages like “Never again” and “Am I next?” They railed against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the politicians who support it.

Over and over, they repeated the message: Enough is enough.

In a wave of protests one historian called the largest of its kind in US history, tens of thousands of students walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday to demand action on gun violence and school safety.

The demonstrations extended from Maine to Hawaii as students joined the youth-led surge of activism set off by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“We’re sick of it,” said Maxwell Nardi, a senior at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico, Virginia, just outside Richmond. “We’re going to keep fighting and we’re not going to stop until Congress finally makes resolute changes.”

Students around the nation left class at 10am for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in the Florida shooting. Some led marches or rallied on football fields, while others gathered in school gyms or took a knee in the hallway.

At some schools, hundreds of students poured out. At others, just one or two walked out in defiance of administrators.

They lamented that too many young people have died and that they are tired of going to school afraid they will be killed.

“Enough is enough. People are done with being shot,” said Iris Fosse-Ober, 18, a senior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis.

Some issued specific demands for lawmakers, including mandatory background checks for all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons like the one used in the Florida bloodbath.

While administrators and teachers at some schools applauded students for taking a stand — and some joined them — others threatened punishment for missing class.

As the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photograph on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with a US flag.

The caption: “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

The protests took place at schools from the elementary level through college, including some that have witnessed their own mass shootings: About 300 students gathered on a soccer field at Colorado’s Columbine High, while students who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012 marched out of Newtown High School in Connecticut.

In the nation’s capital, more than 2,000 high-school age protesters observed 17 minutes of silence while sitting on the ground with their backs turned to the White House. US President Donald Trump was out of town.

The students carried signs with messages such as “Our Blood/Your Hands” and “Never Again” and chanted slogans against the NRA.

Stoneman Douglas High senior David Hogg, who has emerged as one of the leading student activists, livestreamed the walkout at the tragedy-stricken school on his YouTube channel.

He said students could not be expected to stay in class while there was work to do to prevent gun violence.

“Every one of these individuals could have died that day. I could have died that day,” he said.

Another protest against gun violence is scheduled in Washington on Saturday next week, with organizers saying it is expected to draw hundreds of thousands.

However, whether the students can make a difference on Capitol Hill remains to be seen.

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