Student walkouts sweep the US
Our live coverage has ended. Read the posts below to see how the day unfolded.
Students at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin, set up a memorial with the names of 331 people who died from gun violence in the United States during the first week of 2018.
During their school walkout, the students laid flowers and paid their respects to the victims. Sophie Guthier, a junior who helped coordinate the memorial, said she wanted to keep the momentum going after the walkout on March 14.
"We also wanted to remind people that people are dying every day due to this and we didn’t want people to become numb to the idea of losing a life," she told CNN. "We hear of people dying almost every day so often times the impact of losing a life doesn’t always hit people in the way it should."
Today's National Student Walkout, while drawing momentum from February's mass shooting at South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, marked the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in which two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher.
But organizers said the movement doesn't stop today, and they're encouraging young people to push for legislation at the state level if Congress doesn't act.
"The federal government can set standards and practices that apply to all states around gun safety. But states have the option of passing additional measures to protect their own residents from gun violence," the organizers' website says.
Students are calling for several measures, including...
- Banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks
- Mandating universal background checks
- Placing a minimum age of 21 on all gun purchases
- Implementing waiting periods between a gun purchase and gun transfers
- Allowing families to petition a court to remove guns from individuals at risk of injuring themselves
Students marched out around the country to demand action on gun reform. Here are some of the signs they carried:
"Arms R 4 hugging"
"Please value our lives more than your guns"
"I don't want to die"
"We march for the lives you fail to protect"
Havana Chapman-Edwards, a first-grader at Fort Hunt Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, was the only student from her school to walk out on Friday.
Her mom, Bethany Edwards, said the staff and faculty did not address the idea of a walkout. Edwards decided to drive to the school and sign Havana out from the front office so she would not be stopped.
Edwards said Havana was sad about being alone — until she saw footage from other schools:
“When we walked out and saw no one else had, I was crushed initially because she was so upset. But watching her sit in silence and then we turned on CNN live to watch the other schools. She said ‘I am going to tell my friends I did this, and then next time there will be more of us. That means we are winning.’ I knew then that she understood what it means to be a leader, even in the most simple terms."
Havana wore an orange spacesuit throughout her walkout.
“By wearing her astronaut suit, she wants show the world that black girls are beautiful and strong and have just as much of a right to be leaders as anyone else. She wants to be a warrior for girls all over the world who don’t have a voice,” her mom added.
Erin Whalen is a student at Texas City High School in Texas City, Texas. During their walkout, the Texas students set up empty desks and podiums on the football field to honor the 17 Parkland victims.
“Our political activism club put the event together. As a member of that club, I felt it necessary to participate due to the tragedies that keep repeating in the schools of this country. The 14 desks & 3 podiums were put there to symbolize the 17 lost in the Parkland shooting,” Whalen told CNN.
Up to 1,000 Chicago high school students walked out of several high schools Friday, meeting at Grant Park downtown for a rally.
Some of the students were hopeful their administration would not mark them absent. Others were warned they would face disciplinary actions — including having to attend school on Saturday.