Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the scene of a deadly school shooting last week that left 17 dead, met with Florida lawmakers this week to lobby for tighter gun laws. At the same time, thousands of their peers began staging school walkouts in solidarity, saying they no longer feel safe in their classrooms.
Many of the students chanted, “We want change!” Others held signs with messages reading “Protect kids, not guns” and “I want to grow up.”
At St. Cloud Middle School in Central Florida, students walked out for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim.
Some students from Hialeah, Florida took their walkouts all the way to city hall:
Hundreds of students in Weston, Florida, just 20 miles from Parkland, flooded their school’s football field.
And in nearby Coral Springs, students gathered on the football field to form a giant heart, visible from above.
The school walkouts weren’t limited to Florida: across the country, students began leaving their classrooms in protest.
In Washington, D.C. and Maryland, thousands of students gathered to march toward the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
“I understand marching isn’t automatically going to change legislation…but it’s not just about change,” Montgomery Blair High School student Jedediah Grady told Mother Jones reporter Kara Voght. “Next year I’ll be able to vote.”
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, students at the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts also walked out at noon and headed downtown.
“Students united will never be divided,” they chanted.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, Simon Kenton High School students took to the streets chanting, “We want change!” and “We are not a number!”
And at Tipp City High School in Ohio’s Miami Valley, over 200 students walked out in honor of the Parkland shooting victims.
Further walkouts are planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. Students across the country have organized a nationwide walkout for that day to demand change.
“Sit outside your schools and peacefully protest,” the official National School Walkout Twitter account instructs. “Make some noise. Voice your thoughts. ‘We are students, we are victims, we are change.'”
Similar marches and rallies organized by teen activists have also been planned on other dates this coming spring, including March For Our Lives, which is scheduled for March 24 and set to take place in Washington, D.C. According to the event’s website, the focus of the march will be “to demand that [kids’] lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.”