Just over a month after the Women’s March Youth Empower hosted #Enough: National School Walkout, students around the U.S. left class at 10am local time today and stood in solidarity against gun violence as part of National School Walkout Day.
National School Walkout Day was created by 16-year-old Lane Murdoch, a sophomore at Connecticut’s Ridgefield High School. Developed alongside three other classmates, Murdoch wanted to create a protest in response to the Parkland high school shooting, which left 17 students dead after a former student opened fire on Feb. 14.
Today’s protest calls for 13 seconds of silence for the 13 people killed during the Columbine High School shooting that took place 19 years ago today. Organizers have asked students to leave class for the entire day after their silence.
But as teens prepared to protest, another school shooting broke out, this time in Ocala, Florida. A Forest High student was shot in the ankle and is now in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries; the shooter was arrested.
The news served as a dark reminder that school shootings feel more pervasive than ever in the U.S., even as teen activists vow to fight back against gun violence. Twitter users quickly turned to the hashtag #NationalSchoolWalkout in anger and frustration, warning that change is long overdue.
Today is the 19th Anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Today our kids across the US walked out of class to mark that anniversary. Today was another shooting at Forest High School in Ocala Fl. When will it end! #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/4FjU7m3UNz— Kimberly Walker (@kw4congress) April 20, 2018
we have had a school shooting on the 20th anniversary of columbine and the day of the #NationalSchoolWalkout— Oliver Willis (@owillis) April 20, 2018
while you were laughing as our brave students and staff spoke at our #NationalSchoolWalkout, a person was shot at a school in Florida. when will you realize that this is a serious problem. i am shocked https://t.co/5jpwGuecXg— ang (@angelaasutchh) April 20, 2018
during my school’s 17 minutes of silence, there was a school shooting in florida. one person is injured. god help us. #NationalSchoolWalkout— alyssa (@ssyl_a) April 20, 2018
Protests continued across the nation as breaking news emerged. Teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the Parkland shooting occurred, began protesting at 7am ET prior to the Forest High School shooting, with students quickly lining up by 8:50am.
LIVE: On the 19th anniversary of the #Columbine shooting, students at schools across the country plan walkouts to protest gun violence; They're already starting in #Parkland, FL where 17 people were killed in Feb. #LiveDesk pic.twitter.com/WpBWx2dIi1— Dan Snyder (@DanSnyderFOX25) April 20, 2018
The first students have walked out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. https://t.co/z0d2WAUB5A— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) April 20, 2018
Teens throughout the nation joined in by 10am local time with their own protests. While turnout seemed relatively smaller than last month at some schools, others took the day in stride and let their voices be heard.
COME OUT FOR THE WALK OUT! WE HAVE A PHOTO BOOTH, CHALK STATION, PAINT STATION, STATIONS ON BULLYING, MENTAL HEALTH, VOTING, AND INFORMATION ON RUNNING CANDIDATES! WALK OUT FOR SCHOOL SAFETY! pic.twitter.com/8nASDW6HE3— WALK OUT (@JUDSONWALKOUT) April 20, 2018
Not every protest went along seamlessly, however. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were warned by Principal Ty Thompson that they would face disciplinary measures if they left school grounds, CNN reports. Meanwhile, Ocala’s Marion County canceled all of its walkouts after the Forest High School shooting.
School walkouts have been cancelled district-wide in Marion County, Florida, after a school shooting at Forest High School in Ocala, according to a school board member https://t.co/jAcmxUnMAc— CNN (@CNN) April 20, 2018
Today my school was supposed to participate in the #NationalSchoolWalkout but instead we are sitting in a code red lockdown because a school in our county has gotten shot. All my prayers go to Forest High School🙏🙏 #NeverAgain #EnoughIsEnough— Angelica Scorza (@AngelicaScorzaa) April 20, 2018
National School Walkout Day falls days after a Pew Research Center study revealed over half of all U.S. teens worry about school shootings. Their parents are equally concerned, with 63 percent fearing that a school shooting could occur on their child’s campus.