Students across the country walked out of class for the National School Walkout on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine shooting, which left 13 dead. See photos from the emotional and powerful protest.
Today’s the day for change. American high school students have had enough, and they’re letting Congress know that they’re not about to back down when it comes to advocating for stricter gun control laws. On the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, April 20, they walked out of their classrooms at 10:00am local time, and didn’t return for the rest of the school day. See poignant photos of the student activists from 2500 US schools participating in the nationwide protest in our gallery above.
The East Coast, of course, got started first, and the images from the school protests were remarkable. Students in Washington, DC, marched to the White House lawn and held a 13-minute moment of silence and sit-in facing the president’s home. They sat silently and kept a brave face, wearing arm bands and orange shirts (orange is the anti-gun violence color). Their signs were brutal. One girl carried a sign that read, “Betsy DeVos is the only thing that should be fired inside a school.” Another girl’s sign reminded lawmakers that, “on an average day, seven children die from gun violence.”
After the moment of silence ended, another student immediately stood up and read off the names of the Columbine victims through a megaphone, over and over and over again. She did not stop for several minutes, breaking down in tears at the end. They began marching toward the Capitol afterward. In Parkland, student activist David Hogg live streamed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School protest. He was visibly tearing up during the moment of silence, also wearing an orange tee like the students in DC. It’s only been two months since the shooting that killed his classmates and teacher.
The 13-minute moment of silence represented the 13 victims of the Columbine shooting. Twelve students and one faculty member were slaughtered by two disturbed students at the high school on April 20, 1999. Their assault was carried out with illegally obtained assault rifles after their planted bombs throughout campus failed to detonate. Columbine was one of the 10 deadliest school shootings in U.S. history — until 16 students and one faculty member were killed in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 by a former student.
The April 20 protest was organized by a student-led gun control movement, assembled in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting. Lane Murdock, 16, a sophomore at Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, was horrified by what happened to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, and started planning the walkout the same day. Murdock started a petition to fight violence in schools, that now has over 250,000 signatures, with a goal of 300,000.
This is the second walkout in two months. In March 2018, students and allies participated in the #Enough walkout, held for 17 minutes in memory of those 17 lives lost in Florida.#Enough was created for Congress to implement more action and stricter gun laws, than just offering their “thoughts and prayers” after every incidence of gun violence. It’s not enough, and it never will be. These students are leading the way toward real change, and the pressure is mounting for Congress to answer their pleas. Ball’s in your court, adults.
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