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Teens tell us why they’re protesting after the Parkland shooting

Students around the country are organizing a national movement on guns.

by Emma Fidel, Tess Owen, and Dan Ming
Feb 22 2018, 6:45pm

Generation Z has grown up in a world where active shooter threats and lockdown drills are the norm, and they’ve had enough.

In the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, the angry, exasperated, and heartbroken voices of student survivors have emerged as forces of change. They've tweeted at Trump, marched on Washington and Tallahassee, and called out the National Rifle Association.

Now, high school students across the country are organizing in solidarity with their peers from Parkland, who are planning a march on Washington, D.C. on March 24, called "March for Our Lives." Frustrated by what they labeled as the older generations’ failure to keep them safe in their schools, local teens are taking matters into their own hands by planning at least three days of action nationwide.

VICE News spoke to students across the country — from Florida cities near Parkland to Pittsburgh and Decatur, Georgia — who are determined to make sure that another mass shooting never happens.

High schoolers from West Boca Raton, for example, have launched an initiative called “535 Letters for Change,” which entails writing to members of Congress demanding reforms to gun laws.

And local activists and high schools across the country are working with the Women’s March’s “Youth Empower Group” to coordinate a nationwide school walkout on March 14 at 10 a.m. in all time zones. The walkout will last for 17 minutes — one minute for each Parkland victim.

Some student survivors are also participating in a march on Washington, D.C. — organized by Parkland students — on March 24.

High school students in Connecticut are also organizing another movement, called the #NationalStudentWalkout, for April 20. They chose that date because it marks 19 years since the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado that left 13 dead — the first school shooting of the modern era.

Some students said their schools could reprimand them for staging walkouts, but they’re willing to face the consequences. VICE News spoke to three seniors in Pittsburgh who all received detention for a protest on Feb. 21. Anyah Jackson, 17, said she feels they didn’t do anything wrong.

“I am so proud of what we did,” Jackson said.

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