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Hundreds of students walk out of Midwood High School as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence. 

Students hoisted “Stand United” signs. They chanted “”Hey, hey, ho, ho – the NRA has got to go” outside the White House. Others put 14 desks and 3 podiums in a circle to honor the students and faculty killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

These scenes played out across the country as students put down their pencils and pens and walked out of class to protest gun violence. Activists hoped it would be the biggest demonstration of student activism yet in response to last month’s massacre in Florida.

A PERSONAL CONNECTION TO PARKLAND

At East Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina, senior Talia Pomp said one of her best friends attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and texted her during the rampage last month, leaving an everlasting impact on her.

“That personal connection made it like super real for me … and this has to be the last one,” said Pomp, who handed out orange T-shirts with #enough written on them to her classmates.

Some of her classmates aligned their desks in a circle to discuss gun violence in America. Above them hung an image of Che Guevara, a prominent communist figure in the Cuban Revolution who went on to become a guerrilla leader in South America and a universal symbol of revolution.

PARKLAND HIGH – SHARING MORE THAN A NAME

Parkland High School outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, shares more than a name with the school in Parkland, Florida.

Stoneman Douglass freshman Daniel Duff, who survived the shooting by hiding in a closet but lost seven of his friends, is the cousin of Collin and Kyleigh Duff, who go to Parkland High in Pennsylvania. The Duff siblings have been selling #parklandforparkland bracelets, raising more than $10,000 for the Florida shooting victims.

Daniel Duff described what it was like to live through the shooting in a video that was shown at the rally.

“How many more mass shootings does it have to take for real change?” he said.

After a rally in front of the White House, students march up Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill in Washington.

PROTEST AND BE PUNISHED?

While some schools encouraged the walkouts and arranged the school day around them, others took a stand against the protests and threatened punishment.

At Kell High School in Marietta, just northwest of Atlanta, three of the 1,000-plus students walked out, then went back inside after their 17 minutes of protest. The school had said any protesting students would be punished, but it didn’t specify the consequences.

Police patrolled outside. A British couple walking their dogs near the school wanted to encourage students, but they were threatened with arrest if they did not leave the campus.

About an hour’s drive south, in Whitfield County, Superintendent Judy Gilreath wrote a letter threatening disciplinary action for students who walked out, citing concerns about confrontations between students over gun rights. And suburban Atlanta’s Cobb County School District, one of the state’s largest systems, announced that it does not support the walkouts, but the potential consequences didn’t deter some students.

“Change never happens without backlash,” said Kara Litwin, a senior in Cobb County.

Freshman Kennedi Lawson, 14, carries a sign as student walkout at Cherry Hill West High School in remembrance of those killed in the Parkland, Fla., shooting in Cherry Hill, N.J.

A POEM FOR PARKLAND

In Maine, most of the walkout demonstrations were postponed because of school cancellations following a snowstorm that dumped up to 20 inches.

But more than 200 students gathered outside Yarmouth High School as snow pelted the crowd to hold a moment of silence for the victims.

“This is not politics. This is life, and the loss of it. This is the indisputable fact that every student in America goes to school with a bundle of fear tucked into their backpack. It is exhausting,” said Sage Watterson, reading from an original poem, “Never Again.”

She said she wanted to “grab James Madison by the whig” and tell him that the use of a comma in the 2nd Amendment opened the door to gun violence he never could’ve imagined.

“Do not use our forefathers’ words to mop up the blood on library carpets and cafeteria floors,” she said.

HITTING CLOSE TO HOME

A female student was fatally shot at Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama, earlier this month, so dozens of students walked outside and encircled a flagpole, which was still at half-staff in memory of 17-year-old Courtlin Arrington. They spent 17 minutes in silence for each of the Parkland deaths, and 1 minute for their slain classmate. A 17-year-old junior has been charged with manslaughter in Arrington’s death.

“We were out there for the Florida victims, as many other schools were, but we were also out there for one of our own and I think that was the hardest part,” said senior DeCarlos Bates, 17.

 

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(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan  & AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster & David Maialetti /The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

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3 thoughts on “From Somber To Angry, School Walkout Protests Vary In Tenor

  1. Passing Through!! on said:

    @L
    **
    And sadly you’re correct, because the one percenters in congress care about nothing but money. I’m sure most of their kids never attended public school. You see this POS president sat and met with these kids, lied, and challenged congress to go against the NRA then held a secret late night meeting with the NRA and has now backtracked. I wonder how many of the kids who are out protesting parents are RepliKKKans or trump supporters. True change on gun control will come from the legislative branch of government. If any of these kids will be 18 in November they should all be registered to vote or if they’re not old enough go out and campaign for a candidate who’s supporting the change that you want.

  2. And none of these marches will make a damn difference.
    The NRA is a powerful lobbyist with obviously DEEP POCKETS.
    THE ONLY THING THE NRA CARES ABOUT IS $$$$$$$$$.

    HUMAN LIVES MEAN NOTHING TO THEM OR TO THE BOZO’S WE CALL POLITICIANS IN WASHINGTON DC!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THEY ARE ALL THUGS–RECEIVING KICK-BACKS FROM THE NRA!!!!!!!!!

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