Student walkouts sweep the US

Meg Wagner and Brian Ries, CNN
updated 4:39 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018
4:30 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

Our live coverage has ended. Read the posts below to see how the day unfolded.

4:24 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

Wisconsin students set up memorial for 331 gun violence victims

From CNN's Isabella Gomez

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."
3:48 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

Today they walked. Here's what they want lawmakers to do next.

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
3:09 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

These are the signs students carried today

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"

2:27 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

This first grader who walked out alone was upset — until she saw footage from other schools

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.

2:11 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

Why these Texas students put empty desks and podiums on their football field

From CNN's Isabella Gomez

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.
2:07 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

Chicago students who walked out may have to make up school on Saturday

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. 

1:50 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

What the students marching today want

From CNN's Holly Yan

Students across the country planning on walking out of their classrooms today to demand action against gun violence.

Lane Murdock, the 16-year-old sophomore who launched the National School Walkout, said the walkouts are all about empowering young people.

"Empowering students to do the walkouts and become leaders in their communities, speaking up when they see inaction," she said.

The movement also encourages 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 website says.

Such measures could include:

  • 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 transfer
  • Allowing families to petition a court to remove guns from individuals at risk of injuring themselves or others through extreme risk protective orders (ERPOs)

1:35 p.m. ET, April 20, 2018

A Florida school set up 13 empty desks for the 13 Columbine victims

From CNN's Isabella Gomez

Students walking out of Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida, saw 13 empty desks set up in memory of the Columbine victims.

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

Erika Iglesias, a freshman at Cypress Bay, took a photo of the memorial during the walkout.

“I personally think that participating (in) these kind of walk outs will really bring attention to the government and news outlet that this generation is fed up and wants a change, and we want it now,” she told CNN.