By Collin Binkley, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
They bowed their heads in honour of the lifeless. They carried indicators with messages like “By no means once more” and “Am I subsequent?” They railed in opposition to the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation and the politicians who help it.
And again and again, they repeated the message: Sufficient is sufficient.
In a wave of protests one historian referred to as the most important of its variety in American historical past, tens of hundreds of scholars walked out of their school rooms Wednesday to demand motion on gun violence and college security.
The demonstrations prolonged from Maine to Hawaii as college students joined the youth-led surge of activism set off by the Feb. 14 bloodbath at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive College in Parkland, Florida.
“We’re sick of it,” stated Maxwell Nardi, a senior at Douglas S. Freeman Excessive College in Henrico, Virginia, simply outdoors Richmond. “We’re going to maintain preventing, and we’re not going to cease till Congress lastly makes resolute adjustments.”
College students across the nation left class at 10 a.m. native time for at the least 17 minutes — one minute for every of the lifeless within the Florida capturing. Some led marches or rallied on soccer fields, whereas others gathered at school gyms or took a knee within the hallway.
At some colleges, lots of of scholars poured out. At others, only one or two walked out in defiance of directors.
They lamented that too many younger folks have died and that they’re uninterested in going to high school afraid they are going to be killed.
“Sufficient is sufficient. Individuals are achieved with being shot,” stated Iris Fosse-Ober, 18, a senior at Washburn Excessive College in Minneapolis.
Some issued particular calls for for lawmakers, together with necessary background checks for all gun gross sales and a ban on assault weapons just like the one used within the Florida massacre.
Whereas directors and lecturers at some colleges applauded college students for taking a stand — and a few joined them — others threatened punishment for lacking class.
Because the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photograph on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with an American flag. The caption: “I’ll management my very own weapons, thanks.”
The protests happened at colleges from the elementary degree via faculty, together with some which have witnessed their very own mass shootings: About 300 college students gathered on a soccer area at Colorado’s Columbine Excessive, whereas college students who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary College assault in 2012 marched out of Newtown Excessive College in Connecticut.
Within the nation’s capital, greater than 2,000 high-school age protesters noticed 17 minutes of silence whereas sitting on the bottom with their backs turned to the White Home. President Donald Trump was out of city.
The scholars carried indicators with messages reminiscent of “Our Blood/Your Arms” and “By no means Once more” and chanted slogans in opposition to the NRA.
In New York Metropolis, they chanted, “Sufficient is sufficient!” In Salt Lake Metropolis, the indicators learn, “Shield youngsters not weapons,” ”Worry has no place at school“ and ”Am I subsequent?“
At Eagle Rock Excessive in Los Angeles, youngsters took a second of silence as they gathered round a circle of 17 chairs labeled with the names of the Florida victims.
Stoneman Douglas Excessive senior David Hogg, who has emerged as one of many main scholar activists, livestreamed the walkout on the tragedy-stricken college on his YouTube channel. He stated college students couldn’t be anticipated to remain at school whereas there was work to do to stop gun violence.
“Each one in all these people might have died that day. I might have died that day,” he stated.
In becoming a member of the protests, the scholars adopted the instance set by most of the survivors of the Florida capturing, who’ve turn out to be gun-control activists, main rallies, lobbying legislators and giving TV interviews. Their efforts helped spur passage final week of a Florida regulation curbing entry to assault rifles by younger folks.
One other protest in opposition to gun violence is scheduled in Washington on March 24, with organizers saying it’s anticipated to attract lots of of hundreds.
However whether or not the scholars could make a distinction on Capitol Hill stays to be seen.
Congress has proven little inclination to defy the highly effective NRA and tighten gun legal guidelines, and Trump backed away from his preliminary help for elevating the minimal age for purchasing an assault rifle to 21.
A spokeswoman for Schooling Secretary Betsy DeVos, newly appointed head of a federal panel on college security, stated DeVos “provides lots credit score to the scholars who’re elevating their voices and demanding change,” and “their enter can be helpful.”
David Farber, a historical past professor on the College of Kansas who has studied social change actions, stated it’s too quickly to know what impact the protests may have. However he stated Wednesday’s walkouts have been for sure the most important protest led by highschool college students within the historical past of the U.S.
“Younger persons are that social media technology, and it’s straightforward to mobilize them in a approach that it in all probability hadn’t been even 10 years in the past,” Farber stated.
Wednesday’s co-ordinated protests have been organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Girls’s March, which introduced hundreds to Washington final yr.
At Aztec Excessive College in a rural, gun-friendly a part of New Mexico the place many take pleasure in searching and capturing, college students prevented gun politics and opted for a ceremony honouring college students killed in shootings — together with two who died in a December assault at Aztec.
“Our youngsters sit on each ends of the spectrum, and we have now a various group with regards to gun rights and gun management,” Principal Warman Corridor stated.
In Brimfield, Ohio, 12-year-old Olivia Shane, an avid aggressive entice shooter who has owned her personal weapons since she was about 7, skipped the gun protest and memorial held at her college.
“Individuals wish to take away our weapons and it’s a Second Modification proper of ours,” she stated. “In the event that they wish to take away our Second Modification proper, why can’t we take away their modification of freedom of speech?”
About 10 college students left Ohio’s West Liberty-Salem Excessive College — which witnessed a capturing final yr — regardless of a warning they may face detention or extra critical self-discipline.
Police within the Atlanta suburb of Marietta patrolled Kell Excessive, the place college students have been threatened with unspecified penalties in the event that they participated. Three college students walked out anyway.
The walkouts drew help from corporations reminiscent of media conglomerate Viacom, which paused programming on MTV, BET, Nickelodeon and its different networks for 17 minutes throughout the walkouts.
Related Press writers Ken Thomas and Maria Danilova in Washington; Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Jonathan Drew in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Mike Householder in Detroit; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston; Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles contributed to this report.