Thousands of students have walked out of their classrooms in protest over gun laws as they showed support for the teen survivors of Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting who are rallying in the state’s Capitol.
Students from across the country participated in the mass walk out on Wednesday to honor the 17 people killed in the deadly massacre in Parkland, Florida a week ago.
About 2,000 students, parents, and teachers held hands and chanted outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High wearing the school’s colors and brandishing signs.
They chanted ‘never again’ and ‘I will not be a victim’ and joined hands and held them aloft at about 2.20pm – around the time the February 14 rampage began.
It took place as thousands of others, including massacre survivors, converged on Florida’s Capitol to ramp up the pressure on lawmakers to enact tougher gun control measures.
Holding signs reading ‘Never Again’ and ‘Be The Adults, Do Something,’ students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High rallied with thousands of supporters outside the imposing white stone-columned capitol building in Tallahassee.
‘I am here to demand change from my government,’ student Lorenzo Prado told the crowd. ‘To let these victims lives be taken without any change in return is an act of treason to our great country.’
‘To let our fellow countrymen fall beside us without fighting back is to be equal to leaving a soldier to die on the battlefield.’
More than 100 students from Stoneman Douglas traveled eight hours in buses on Tuesday to meet with state legislators and demand they take action on gun laws.
‘We’re what’s making the change. We’re going to talk to these politicians… We’re going to keep pushing until something is done because people are dying and this can’t happen anymore,’ said Alfonso Calderon, a 16-year-old junior.
‘My classmates and I are probably the most determined group of people you will ever meet,’ said student Sofie Whitney. ‘People are talking about how we aren’t serious because we’re children, but… we’re serious.’
Several hundred people protested outside of the Florida House of Representatives while lawmakers were in session on Wednesday.
The protesters were upset that the Republican-controlled chamber refused to take up a measure a day earlier that would have banned assault rifles and large capacity magazines.
The crowd burst into chants of ‘vote them out’ and ‘we’re students united, we’ll never be divided.’
The noise could be heard inside the chamber but business went on uninterrupted.
Students across the state staged the walkout exactly a week after gunman Nikolas Cruz stormed the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Hundreds of teens from Western High School in Davie carried large signs, each listing the name of a school where a shooting has taken place, along with the date of the shooting and the number of dead.
Students at schools across Broward and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida also participated in the walkout.
Other protesters from schools in Texas, Maryland, and Virginia also showed their support on Wednesday.
In Washington, hundreds of local high school students also gathered outside the White House chanting slogans against the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun lobby, and demanding action from President Donald Trump.
One school district in Houston, Texas threatened to suspend students who staged a walkout or caused disruption to protest gun laws.
Needville ISD Superintendent Curtis Rhodes sent a letter home to parents warning that students risked a three-day suspension for protesting, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Faced with the massive outpouring of grief and outrage over the Parkland shooting, Trump was to meet with parents, students, and teachers at the White House on Wednesday to discuss school safety.
Trump, who received strong backing from the NRA during his White House run, is also showing a new-found willingness to take at least some steps on gun control.
The president threw his support on Tuesday behind moves to ban ‘bump stocks’ – an accessory that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.
The Florida school shooter had a history of troubling behavior and a person close to him warned the FBI five weeks before the shooting that he was a threat, but no action was taken.
Cruz legally bought the gun he used in the attack – an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle – and the White House said Tuesday it would consider raising the age for such purchases.
Students are also planning a march on Washington next month.
They have earned $2 million in pledges from Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and his human rights lawyer wife Amal, Oprah Winfrey, director Steven Spielberg and film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.
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