A generation of students raised in the shadow of gun violence is sending a loud and united message to lawmakers: Enough is enough.
Some participants read the names of each victim; others stood in silence around sets of empty chairs. At Granada Hills Charter High School in Los Angeles, students lay down on a football field to spell out the walkout’s rallying cry: “Enough.”
The demonstrations continued throughout the day in numerous cities. Participants waved signs and chanted enough as they marched through the streets and rallied in front of government buildings, including the White House.
They called on lawmakers to do something before another school falls victim to gun violence.
“This is not a matter of left versus right. This is a matter of public safety,” said Cate Whitman, a junior at LaGuardia High School in New York. “We’re all working together, which is something we haven’t seen from the adults in a very long time.”
In Parkland, Florida, Stoneman Douglas students rose before sunrise to place hundreds of pinwheels around campus to mark the anniversary. A quote from the environmentalist for whom the school is named hung on a sign near the school, telling students to “be a nuisance when it counts.”
Stoneman Douglas students hadn’t planned to do anything more than walk out of class for 17 minutes, as many of them are preparing for a March 24 rally in Washington. But as crowds swelled across the country, some students made a spontaneous decision to continue rallying off campus after the walkout.
“By more than one school doing this, it shows politicians and lawmakers that we want change to happen,” senior Audrey Diaz said. “And the next generation is prepared to make that happen.”
What students want
Initially organized by the Women’s March youth branch, the National Student Walkout demanded three key actions from Congress:
– Ban assault weapons;
– Require universal background checks before gun sales;
– Pass a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior.