'We want change,' say U.S. students in nationwide walkout

From Reuters - March 14, 2018

PARKLAND, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. students spilled out of classrooms by the thousands on Wednesday morning, waving signs and chanting slogans like We want change in a coast-to-coast protest against gun violence prompted by a deadly rampage at a Florida high school last month.

The #ENOUGH National School Walkout began in the Eastern time zone at 10 a.m. and was scheduled to last 17 minutes, though many protests went longer. The protest rolled westward, with students in other time zones walking out at 10 a.m. local time, including at Colorados Columbine High School, where two gunmen killed 13 people in 1999.

The announced duration of the walkouts was intended to commemorate the 17 students and staff killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. The massacre was the latest in a series of shootings that have plagued U.S. schools and colleges since the Columbine attack.

While many school districts gave their blessings for the protests, others warned of discipline for any students who joined the walkout, though many defied the warnings and left school anyway.

In Parkland, thousands of students slowly filed onto the Stoneman Douglas school football field to the applause of families and supporters beyond the fences as law enforcement officers looked on. News helicopters thrummed overhead.

Ty Thompson, the schools principal, called for the biggest group hug, and the students obliged around the 50-yard line.

We want change! students chanted on the sidewalks outside the school. Can you hear the children screaming? read one of the signs.

At New York Citys Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, crowds of students poured into the streets of Manhattan, many dressed in orange, the color adopted in recent years by the gun-control movement.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough, read one sign, needling the rote response many lawmakers make after mass shootings. At 10 a.m., the hundreds of students sat down on the sidewalk, filling half a city block, and fell silent.


The walkouts were part of a burgeoning, grassroots movement that grew out of the Parkland attack. Some survivors have lobbied state and federal lawmakers, and even met with President Donald Trump, to call for new restrictions on gun ownership, a right protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

We dont feel safe in schools anymore, said Sarah Chatfield, a high school student from Maryland, standing in a crowd of hundreds protesting outside the White House, with some sitting silent with their backs turned.

Trump is talking about arming teachers with guns, the 15-year-old said. That is not a step in the right direction.



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