US cities see student-led walkout over gun violence

US cities see student-led walkout over gun violence
From Al Jazeera - March 14, 2018

New York City-Hundreds of students have gathered in New York City's Washington Square Park after walking out from their high schools to share speeches and protest signs in an urgent call for gun control and safety in US schools.

The students were just a few of the thousands of those who walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday to mark the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Alessandra Flores, a 16-year-old student at Harvest Collegiate in New York City, was at the rally in Washington Square Park.

"When the shooting at Stoneman Douglas happened, it was devastating," said Flores, who is a member of her school's organising committee.

"But seeing the students finally rise up andgetting their voice heard was amazing and that's why I think it's so important to participate in this walkout."

The action was organised by the Women's March Youth Empower, the youth group of the national organisation.

The walkout began at 10am local time and lasted 17 minutes in most schools to honour the 17 people killed when an armed man opened fire on a Parkland, Florida, high school last month.

Stricter controls urged

The stricter controls students and teachers want include the banning of assault weapons, universal background checks and the passing of a law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behaviour.

They "have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school", Youth Empower said in a statement prior to the walkout.

Ziad Ahmed, a Women's March Youth Empower member and a first-year college student at Yale University, said "we want our hallways, our schools and our places of worship and our streets to be safe and be free of gun violence".

Ahmed told Al Jazeera that "young people are rising up to say that enough is enough".

Flores of Harvest Collegiatesaid school shootings have become all too common in the US.

The New Yorker was born three years after the Columbine High School shooting, in which 13 were killed.

The 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 27 students and adults happened when she was in third grade.

Flores told Al Jazeera she was distraught when it occurred: "I vividly remember the emotions I felt because these students were my age."

The recurring gun violence informed her stance on gun control, which she's "always" supported, Flores said, adding that she felt until now, nothing had been done.

"[T]heres no change," she said.

Urgent reform needed

A march For Our Lives


Continue reading at Al Jazeera »