Students rally in solidarity to end gun violence

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    Thousands of students are streaming out of schools across the country today to protest against gun violence in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people.

    “I’m just mad there’s no action by our government representatives,” Daniel Rogov, a junior in Brooklyn, New York, said today.

    “It’s all thoughts and prayers; it’s all talk,” he told ABC News. “After a gun violence tragedy there’s a speech talking about how we need change but there never is change.”

    The event, which began at 10 a.m. across every time zone, was officially scheduled to last 17 minutes — one minute for each of the victims gunned down in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. But many students are rallying for much longer.

    To the students at Stoneman Douglas, Daniel’s message is, “Keep making your voices heard. While the politicians might stop talking about this, we’re not done.”

    Over 3,000 walkout events were registered to take part in today’s call on Congress to pass tighter gun control laws, according to ENOUGH National School Walkout, the event organizers.

    The walkouts are across the nation, from Michigan to Maryland, from Colorado to California, and from the White House to Washington state.

    Outside Trump International Hotel in Manhattan, students chanted “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?”

    Blocks away in Times Square, it was eerily quiet as students protested silently.

    “Remember why we are walking out,” Stoneman Douglas survivor Lauren Hogg wrote on Twitter today. “We are walking out for my friends that passed, all children that have been taken because of gun violence. We are walking out for the empty desks in my classes, and the unsaid goodbyes. This epidemic of School shootings must stop.”

    In Washington, D.C., a huge crowd of chanting students gathered in front of the White House. Once the clock struck 10 a.m., the students silently sat down with their backs to the White House.

    Even though most teenagers can’t vote, “we just want the White House to hear us,” Abby Silverman of Bethesda, Maryland, told ABC News outside the White House.

    Kevin Butler told ABC News he came to the White House to “make sure there are stricter gun laws,” and even though the president wasn’t there during the sit-in, Kevin thinks their voices will be heard.

    Women’s March Youth Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard Jacobs, one of the few adult allies guiding the students in the youth-led movement, told ABC News before the event that while the walkout was sparked by the Florida school shooting, the event is about pressuring Congress to act against gun violence overall.

    She said the walkout was a way to shed light on the kind of gun violence that exists not just in schools but every day, like shootings that affect communities of color or devastate cities like Chicago.

    How participants spent those 17 minutes of the walkout was up to them, St. Bernard Jacobs said. Some people were doing a lie-in, while others held rallies, she said.

    Students from around the world were also eager to participate.

    Izzy Harris, a student at the American School in London, said students at her school, including herself, walked out “to demonstrate that the U.S. government needs to make changes to their gun laws.”

    “Although we are not directly affected in the U.K., a number of us are American and have many connections to the U.S.,” she told ABC News via video.

    While many school districts were supportive of the protests, some schools from Pennsylvania to Georgia had reportedly threatened to discipline students participating in walkouts.

    In Plainfield, Illinois, where some students had planned to walk out, doing so came with a guideline.

    Students who wanted to participate in the walkout also had to attend an after-school discussion with state legislators to discuss issues that relate to school violence, like the political process, school safety, gun control and what influences politicians, Plainfield School District Superintendent Lane Abrell told ABC News.

    A student who walked out but did not attend the discussion with state legislators would get a one-hour detention, Abrell said.

    Abrell said the walkout “in my opinion … doesn’t really solve the issue,” and the meeting with local legislators is a way for students who genuinely are passionate about the cause to learn how school violence issues can be solved.

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said schools could punish students for missing class for walkouts, but the punishment should only be because students missed school and not as a harsher punishment because the students participated in a protest.

    Dozens of colleges and universities had said they won’t penalize applicants who are peaceful student protesters.

    ABC News’ Connor Burton, Rachel Katz, Doug Lantz, Andy Fies, Dennis Powell, Fergal Gallagher, Armando Garcia, Evan McMurry and Samantha Reilly contributed to this report.

    View the original article: http://abcnews.go.com/US/students-country-world-part-national-school-walkout-today/story?id=53712013

    Original story is here : http://abcnews.go.com/US/students-country-world-part-national-school-walkout-today/story?id=53712013

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