'ENOUGH': Student walkout sends message on gun violence

From Reuters - March 14, 2018

PARKLAND, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. students spilled out of classrooms by the tens of thousands on Wednesday, chanting slogans like No more silence and We want change as part of a coast-to-coast protest over gun violence prompted by last months massacre at a Florida high school.

The #ENOUGH National School Walkout was intended to pressure federal and state lawmakers to tighten laws on gun ownership despite opposition by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun rights advocacy group.

With some students dressed in orange, the color adopted by the gun control movement, the walkouts began at 10 a.m. local time in each time zone and were scheduled to last 17 minutes. Many rallies went longer.

The duration was a tribute to 17 students and staff killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. It was the latest in a series of shootings that have plagued U.S. schools and colleges over the past two decades.

While many school districts gave their blessings to the walkouts, others said anyone who participated would face discipline. Many students defied the warnings and left school anyway. They included over two dozen at Lindenhurst High School on New York states Long Island, who were at first suspended, then had their punishment reduced to detentions, according to a senior and the school superintendent.

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 hovered overhead.

Ty Thompson, the 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.

But not all students in Florida were in favor of gun control. About 80 miles (129 km) north of Parkland at Vero Beach High School, chants of No More Silence, end gun violence, were countered by shouts of Trump! and We want guns from other students, according to video posted by local newspaper TCPalm.

At New York Citys Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, crowds of students poured into the streets of Manhattan, many dressed in orange, symbolic of the bright color worn by hunters to avoid being shot by accident.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough, read one sign at LaGuardia, a jab at a response often uttered by lawmakers after mass shootings.

In Akron, Ohio, hundreds of students wearing orange t-shirts with black targets on the front walked out of Firestone High School.

At Granada Hills Charter High School in Los Angeles, students laid prone on the field of a football stadium to form a giant #ENOUGH, symbolizing the thousands of youth who die of gun violence every year in the United States.

Students at Columbine High, Colorado remembered the 1999 massacre at their school that began an era in which mass shootings became common in U.S. schools.




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