Out of Class and Into the Streets
In some places, demonstrators chanted and held signs. At other schools, students stood in silence. In Atlanta, some students took a knee.
Thousands of New York City students converged on central locations — Columbus Circle, Battery Park, Brooklyn Borough Hall, Lincoln Center.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, stretched out on the sidewalk as part of a “die-in” with students in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, the former home of the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Hundreds sat in the middle of West 62nd Street for several minutes before rising to their feet and shouting, “No more violence.” A cry of “Trump Tower!” sent dozens of protesters marching toward the Trump International Hotel and Tower across Broadway. Onlookers gave them fist-bumps.
In Washington, thousands left their classrooms in the city and its suburbs and marched to the Capitol steps, their high-pitched voices battling against the stiff wind: “Hey-hey, ho-ho, the N.R.A. has got to go!” One sign said: “Fix This, Before I Text My Mom from Under A Desk.”
Members of Congress, overwhelmingly Democratic, emerged from the Capitol to meet them. Trailed by aides and cameras, some legislators high-fived the children in the front rows, others took selfies, and nearly all soon learned that the young protesters had no idea who they were.
Except, of course, for “BERNIE SANDERS!” which the protesters screamed at the Vermont senator, as well at some other white-haired, bespectacled legislators.
Asked by reporters about the walkouts, Raj Shah, Mr. Trump’s deputy press secretary, said the president “shares the students’ concerns about school safety” and cited his support for mental health and background check improvements.
As the hours passed, the walkouts moved west across the country.
“It’s 10 o’clock,” said a man on the intercom at Perspectives Charter Schools on Chicago’s South Side. With that, hundreds of students streamed out of their classrooms and into the neighborhood, marching past modest brick homes, a Walgreens and multiple churches.
Several current and former Perspectives students have been killed in recent years, the school president said.
“You see different types of violence going on,” said Armaria Broyles, a junior who helped lead the walkout and whose older brother was killed in a shooting. “We all want a good community and we all want to make a change.”
At Santa Monica High School in Southern California, teachers guided hundreds of students to the football field. It felt like a cross between a political rally and pep rally, with dozens of students wearing orange T-shirts, the color of the gun control movement, and #neveragain scrawled onto their arms in black eyeliner.
“It is our duty to win,” Roger Gawne, a freshman and one of the protest organizers, yelled to the crowd.
Staying Silent, for the Opposite Reason
Although the walkouts commanded attention on cable television and social media for much of Wednesday, it also was clear that many students did not participate, especially in rural and conservative areas where gun control is not popular.
At Bartlesville High School in Bartlesville, Okla., where hundreds of students walked out of class last month to protest cuts in state education funding, nothing at all happened at 10 a.m.
“I haven’t heard a word about it,” the principal, LaDonna Chancellor, said of the gun protest.
In Iowa, Russell Reiter, superintendent of the Oskaloosa Community School District, suggested that temperatures below 40 degrees may have encouraged students to stay indoors, but he also said that “students here are just not interested in what is going on in bigger cities.”
There was opposition even in liberal Santa Monica. Just after the organizers of the walkout there read the names of the Parkland victims, another student went on stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted “Support the Second Amendment!” before he was called off by administrators.
‘We Need More Than Just 17 Minutes’
Some of the day’s most poignant demonstrations happened at schools whose names are now synonymous with shootings.
Watched by a phalanx of reporters, camera operators and supporters, hundreds of students crowded onto the football field at Stoneman Douglas High shortly after 10 a.m.
A month after the Feb. 14 shooting, notes of condolence, fading flowers and stuffed toys, damp from recent rain, still lay on the grass outside the school and affixed to metal fences.
The walkout was allowed by the school, but several students said they were warned that they would not be permitted back onto the campus for the day if they left school grounds. Despite the warning, a couple of hundred students marched to a nearby park for another demonstration.
“We need more than just 17 minutes,” Nicolle Montgomerie, 17, a junior, said as she walked toward the park.
An email from the school soon went out telling students they could return.
In Newtown, Conn., where 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, hundreds of students at Newtown High School gathered in a parking lot near the football field. Two hours later, it was Columbine’s turn.
Source Article from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/us/school-walkout.html