At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, hundreds of thousands of students and teachers across the country marched out of their classrooms for National School Walkout Day to protest rampant gun violence in the United States, and to stand in solidarity with the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The individual protests lasted 17 minutes, representing one minute for each of the 17 victims who lost their lives in the Florida massacre.
An estimated 3,000 individual protests took place from elementary schools to colleges and universities, some holding roadside rallies and others gathering in school gyms or on football fields. Students in Massachusetts, Georgia and Ohio planned to march to the statehouse to lobby for gun control.
The protests were loosely organized by the Women’s March youth group Empower, which advocates for an assault weapons ban, mandatory background checks for all gun sales, and a restraining order law that allows judges to confiscate the weapons of people who exhibit signs of violent behavior. The group’s website states: “Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence.”
The coordinated walkouts took place just one day after activists placed 7,000 pairs of shoes outside of the Capitol building in Washington D.C., representing the 7,000 students who have lost their lives due to gun violence since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.