Thousands of students across the country poured into streets, parks, and public squares to call for an end to gun violence in the second school walkout of the year on Friday. After the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, young activists are demanding measures such as banning assault weapons, universal background checks, and a minimum age of 21 on all gun purchases.
The National School Walkout began with a moment of silence for school shooting victims, and continued with rallies, educational and volunteer activities, and voter registration. Students have made it clear that young people are registering to vote en masse, and that they will vote out every politician who is beholden to the NRA.
Lane Murdock, a 16-year-old high school student from Connecticut, organized the nationwide event. In an interview with Refinery29 in March, she explained why she decided to hold the walkout on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, in which two shooters killed 12 students and one teacher.
At the time of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, Murdock was very young, but she said it had a major impact on her. “I can’t remember a lot from that age, but I do remember the specific moment of seeing my mom crying on the couch,” she said. “Not a lot has changed since Sandy Hook, and that’s actually why I chose the Columbine date — because not a lot has changed since Columbine.” There has been no major congressional action since Parkland, though some cities and states have introduced restrictions.
There was a school shooting in Ocala, FL, on Friday, just minutes before the National School Walkout was supposed to start. One student suffered non-life-threatening injuries, while the suspect is in custody.
On Friday, many students risked disciplinary action to march. Some found themselves among few — or were the only — kids in their schools to do so. But they came out in thousands, marching everywhere from the U.S. Capitol to Chicago’s Grant Park, to Downtown Los Angeles. Ahead, some of the most powerful signs from the historic protests.
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