On Wednesday, March 14, a month after the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, the National Student Walkout will see thousands across the country demonstrate in favor of action against gun violence. However, unlike the March For Our Lives, another large scale demonstration happening later in the month, the National Student Walkout is designed to have protesters demonstrate for a short time. There's a poignant reason why the National Student Walkout is 17 minutes specifically.
Each minute represents a life that was lost in the shooting that inspired the walkout. During the shooting, which happened at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 14 students and three staff members were killed.
Now, a month later, demonstrators are organizing a walkout to make an appeal to Congress, calling for a reaction to the school shooting. A description of the walkout is posted on its official website, which is run by Women's March, the progressive organization that hosts a yearly event of the same name.
Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.
In the lead-up to national walkout, students who plan to engage in the demonstration have spoken to media outlets about why they've chosen to participate and what they hope to achieve.
One of those students is 17-year-old Cate Whitman of Manhattan's LaGuardia High School, who told Fox News, “I’m hoping it will bring more focus to the larger issue of gun violence as a whole because gun violence is something that affects people from all walks of life, all over the country, and disproportionately black and brown communities. These things happen all the time in tons of communities, and I’m hoping that people start talking about it in an intersectional way.”
Another New York City student, Naomi Giancola of Brooklyn's Midwood High School, spoke to Fox News as well.
“It really hit home because I’m in high school. That could have been my school, that could have been my friends, that could have been me that was shot or running away,” Giancola said.
Fox News reported that Women's March is expecting over 185,000 nationwide to participate in the walkout.
"A lot of kids in our school are asking, 'What if it's us next?'" Sophie Egar, a senior at Orange High School in Ohio, told Cleveland.com. "The school where this happened in Florida is a lot like ours. It's in a pretty safe community, but it still happened.
The National School Walkout has received support from some school leaders as well.
“We want our students to be able to express themselves,” Jeremy Johnson, a spokesman for the Sumner school district in the Tennessee, told The Tennessean. “We have encouraged our principals that if they have students expressing an interest in [a walkout] to speak with those students and give them a designated place. It’s a walkout for student safety, so we want our students to be able to express themselves in a way that’s organized and safe and then continue on with our school day.”
People who are interested in joining a walkout can search whether a demonstration is happening in their area by using a tool on the official event page.