From Brooklyn, New York, to Spokane, Washington, and dozens of other cities in between, thousands of students walked out of their classrooms to protest gun violence on Wednesday.
Some risked being marked absent, given detention, or suspended to take their stand for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. Organized by the youth Empower group with the Women’s March, the walk-outs happened at over 3,000 schools, according to the group.
Students carried signes while some lay on the ground and others gave speeches over bullhorns. Throughout the day, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting occurred last month, were a visible presence.
Meanwhile on the Capitol, politicians joined in the protests and vowed to enact changes to gun control laws.
Here are some of the highlights from the protests across the country.
Students lead the charge
The marches were largely led by student organizers, young people moved to action by the shooting in Parkland. Students left their classes en masse, some risking punishment from their schools.
The survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, stayed present and active in the movement they helped start. They gave speeches and media interviews and posted on social media.
David Hogg spoke to the media on Wednesday morning. He’s among the most vocal of the Parkland students — and has been falsely accused by right-wing conspiracy theorists of being paid by the gun control lobby.
And in places where gun violence is endemic rather than abnormal, students honored friends lost.
In addition to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there were protests at Sandy Hook and Columbine, schools that know gun violence all too well.
Even kids joined in. A bunch of 11-year-olds in Alexandria, Virginia, prepared a handwritten press packet for Guardian reporter Lois Beckett.
There were some good signs
Teens are pretty clever. Some tried to bring a little lightness in the midst of action about children being shot.
Others, however, kept the tone more somber.
Mixed reactions from schools
Not all schools responded to the walkouts the same way. Some stood by in tacit approval; others threatened punishments. At some schools, teachers and administrators encouraged or participated in the walk outs though.
Principal Bernie Osebold at Romeo Community High School posted a video that said “we don’t support walkouts, but we’re not going to condemn it either.” He encouraged students to talk to their parents about gun violence and told students that, if they wanted to participate, to file out of their classrooms in an orderly manner. He told the students that there would be a police presence, but that the cops weren’t there to punish them.
Cover image: Students rally in front of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)