National Walkout Day

Alex Silverman/WCBS 880

Students Nationwide Stage Walkouts To Protest Gun Violence

March 14, 2018 - 12:01 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Thousands of students in New York and across the country walked out of school to demonstrate against gun violence exactly one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Students left their classrooms for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of the Feb. 14 attack.

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined students as they streamed out of the front door of Edward R. Murrow High School, 1600 Avenue L, and took over the streets in Midwood, Brooklyn. They chanted "NRA Go Away" and "We want change" as they held signs reading, "Never again," "I want to make it to graduation," and "Protect kids not guns."

There were 4,000 students out in the street and their message was clear, they want their school to be safe and they want action on gun control, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

The students from the school chanted, “No more guns!” and held signs reading, “Walkout to end gun violence,” “Am I next,” “Students for gun control,” and, “Our voices count too.”

Freshman Lucia Mayarescu, 14, had a message for Washington and the nation.

“Every student has the right to go to school without the fear of being gunned down. No student should have to beg for their life in a closet. Nobody should have to text their friends, ‘Goodbye.’ Nobody should have to text their mom, their dad, their parents, ‘Goodbye,’” Lucia said. “Our right to live outweighs your right to own a gun any day, period.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio told the students: “We need you because you have shown a kind of leadership, and I am very certain in my heart that change is coming because of you, and I admire you and appreciate you. Keep fighting. Thank you.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined students as they took part in a die-in in Zuccotti Park after walking out of Leadership & Public Service High School in Lower Manhattan. Hundreds of students chanted "enough is enough" and "no more guns" as they called for gun control reform.

Students from Civic Leadership Academy also held a rally in Times Square in support of the walkout.

Meanwhile, the Florida school massacre hits close to home for students at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey. Some of the teens grew up with Alyssa Alhadeff, one of the students killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Several hundred Pascack Hills High School students gathered in the parking lot where they read the names of the Parkland shooting victims  and bowed their heads in silence.

Shelby Pearlman, 16, said she knew Scott Beigel, the geography teacher who died saving lives during last month's massacre, from summer camp.

"He was an amazing guy. Everyone loved him at camp and everyone was absolutely devastated," Pearlman said. "He was funny and he was always relatable to everyone and he was always there for everyone whenever anyone needed to talk to someone."

Senior Rebecca Herman said it is time for gun laws in America to change.

"There is nothing more scary than a bunch of angry teenagers. We can vote. We can speak. We can write. We can call. We can walk out and we can really be the generation that makes a differen," Herman said.

Sophomore Shawn Shiekowitz promises this movement will not fade.

"If politicians and our county's leaders are going to act like children, then it is up to children to act like adults," Shiekowitz said.

The school district gave its blessing and the students did all of the planning for the walkout events at Pascack Hills and Pascack Valley High School.

"What I'm seeing is America's students and also the students here at Pascack Valley Regional are becoming the leading voice in the need to have a national conversation and action regarding gun violence," Superintendent Erik Gundersen said. "They're really speaking from an intelligent, respectful and constructive viewpoint on what they believe needs to be done."

He said the students were thoughtful in their preparations.

"They want to recognize the opinions of a variety of different constituents, they want to make sure that they're not being necessary politically driven in what they're communicating but be more focused about what took place in Parkland, and what it means to them and they believe should be done in the future," Gundersen said.

Discussions about gun violence in America continue in the classroom.

"Our teachers are very good at engaging the students in conversations about what took place in Parkland, the ramifications of it and helping students develop their own viewpoints on how the country, both from a national level and also more locally, how we should respond what took place there and what we can do in the future," Gundersen said.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy marched with students in Hartford.

Participation in the walkout was not mandatory.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where the massacre that touched off the demonstrations happened, a sea of students streamed out of the school behind the national movement.

 

Parents cheered on the students, among them Rick and Rosemarie Jensen.

“This wasn’t the way I wanted my son to become an activist, but you know what? I’m so glad the kids have found their voices, and I hope it’s what’s buoying them, because this isn’t easy for them,” Rosemarie Jensen said told CBS News’ Adriana Diaz.

Meanwhile, freshmen Alexa Palen and Brianna Jesionowski hugged near a memorial set up for their friend, Gina Montalto, 14, who was killed in the Parkland massacre.

“It shows that the community is so strong, and that we’re coming through this together,” Alexa said.

Students also marched on Washington, where House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said, "You are creating a drumbeat across America, a drumbeat that will echo until we get the job done."

Students in Hackensack High School did not take part in Wednesday's walkout. The decision was made after several students told teachers about rumors of violence related to the walkout. Officials contacted the police department and decided it was best to keep kids in school.

It's not clear if anyone was identified or disciplined regarding the security threat.