Despite Snow Day, Local Students Take Part in Gun Protests

What to Know

  • Massachusetts students walked out Wednesday to protest gun violence one month after the deadly mass shooting in Florida.
  • March for Our Lives Boston is handling the Massachusetts event while Empower is organizing the national school walkout.
  • Both groups encouraged students to leave class at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim in the Florida shooting

Students in Massachusetts participated in a nationwide protest against gun violence Wednesday despite many schools being closed due to Tuesday's blizzard.

National organizers say nearly 3,000 walkouts were scheduled in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged following the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

While the national walkout was organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women's March, March for Our Lives Boston handled the Massachusetts event. Both groups had encouraged students to leave class for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim in the Florida shooting.

An estimated 100 schools across the state were expected to take part in the walkout, including Boston Latin, Somerville High School, and Burncoat High School in Worcester. At least one school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin, said it was postponing its walkout until Thursday since school was closed Wednesday due to the snow.

Carrying signs with messages like "We Cannot Protect Our Guns Before Our Kids," students from across the region met at St. Paul's Church on Tremont Street in Boston at 11 a.m. and then marched to the Massachusetts Statehouse.

They may be too young to vote, but they say they want action now. That's why, instead of shoveling on Wednesday, they showed up in the snow marching to demand more gun control.

Many said the snow couldn't have stopped them from this march in Boston.

"This snow storm won't do anything to a movement," Andover High School student Charlotte Powell said.

"Regardless of weather, regardless of adversity, we come out here," said Somerville High School student Sam Dornstein.

Students from Shrewsbury to Roxbury used their voices to say their ages shouldn't stop lawmakers from listening.

"You don't have to be a certain age to know what's right and what's wrong," said one student.

"I think if our representatives and legislators won't listen to adults, maybe they'll finally listen to youth," Powell said.

The signs in Boston were a sign of what was happening across the country, as students marked the one-month anniversary of the Parkland school shooting by protesting the gun laws they say are not tough enough.

"Especially since in Somerville, two people who went to Somerville High School have been shot and killed in the last year," said Somerville High School student Sylvia Hover.

"I think students should have the right to go to school safely and parents should not have to worry if their children are going to come home alive," said Lexington High School student Eliza Stokes.

Cambridge teacher Isabelle Eccles says she has her own reason for marching. 

"Because I don't think giving me a gun is going to make my kid safe," she said.

Their focus once they reached the State House Wednesday was not on giving guns to teachers but on keeping guns out of the hands of those considered dangerous. It's the goal of the so-called Red Flag bill.

The speeches earned cheers of approval from lawmakers, but students say they want action rather than applause.

"We want to feel safe in our streets and we want to feel safe in our schools and we're hoping this finally tells the adults what they need."

They say a lot more is needed for them to feel safe.

"I've grown up with the word 'active shooter' in my mouth, and we're tired of it," Powell said.

Their message isn't ending with Wednesday's march. They say it was just a prelude to the March for Our Lives protest, which is happening on the Boston Common and across the country later in March.

Students in Massachusetts also planned on demonstrating outside the firearms manufacturer Smith and Wesson plant in Springfield, according to MassLive.

"We will knock on the doors of our representatives and speak with them directly, encouraging Massachusetts to continue to lead in gun reform and to learn from other states," read a statement on the March for Our Lives website.

In New Hampshire, students at scores of high schools briefly walked out of their classrooms as part of the nationwide effort to respond to the Parkland shooting. Students from Lebanon High School, Londonderry High School, Nashua South High School and Exeter High School were among that took part in the walkout.

Students in cities like Chicago, San Diego, New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, from the elementary to college level, are taking up the call in a variety of ways. Some planned roadside rallies to honor shooting victims and protest violence. Others were to hold demonstrations in school gyms or on football fields.

Students in the Washington D.C., area were scheduled to march to the White House and U.S. Capitol where they would be joined by Democratic lawmakers in demanding gun control legislation.

Wednesday's gatherings were one of several protests planned for the coming weeks. The March for Our Lives rally for school safety is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation's capital on March 24, its organizers said. And another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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