Thousands of Students Are Walking Out of School Tomorrow in Nationwide Protests. Here’s Why
It’s been exactly one month since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — and some are choosing a somber way to pay tribute to the 17 people killed in the Parkland massacre.
Thousands of students and teachers are planning to walk out of their classrooms on Wednesday, March 14 as part of the the #Enough! National School Walkout to raise awareness about issues of school safety and the impact of gun violence. The nationwide march, organized by Women’s March Youth Empower, will happen at 10 a.m. and last 17 minutes.
Here’s what you need to know about the national school walkout on March 14:
When is the national school walkout day?
The #Enough! National School Walkout will take place on Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m. across time zones. The walkout will last 17 minutes — one minute for each person killed in the Florida school shooting.
Why is there a national school walkout on March 14?
The walkout is to commemorate the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was indicted last week on 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder, and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder. His lawyers also submitted paperwork last week to withdraw his not guilty plea.
“We are not saying he is ‘not guilty,’ but we can’t plead ‘guilty’ while death is still on the table,” according to a statement from Howard Finkelstein, the Broward County public defender who is representing Cruz. “Pleading ‘not guilty,’ even though it is form and process kicking off the legal process, just seemed wrong in this case, a legal fiction that could bring unnecessary pain to the victims’ families. Standing mute maintains our only position: he (Cruz) did it and he will plead guilty immediately to 34 consecutive life sentences without parole.”
The organizers of the March 14 walkout said they wanted this protest to be a call to action for Congress to pass gun control legislation, according to the event’s website.
“We view this work as part of an ongoing and decades-long movement for gun violence prevention, in honor of all victims of gun violence — from James Brady to Trayvon Martin to the 17 people killed in Parkland,” the Women’s March Youth Empower website wrote on its site.
Who is participating in the March 14 walkout?
If you’re a student, the Women’s March Youth Empower website has a tool to search for a walkout at your school. The website also includes resources for students, teachers, parents, and administration officials on how to have a safe and productive walkout.
But not all school districts are on board with the planned protest. Ahead of the proposed walkout, some schools have warned students against participating it it. For example, last month, a letter from the Needville Independent School District’s superintendent Curtis Rhodes was allegedly posted to the threatening to suspend students who participate in a “demonstration during school hours.” TIME reached out to Superintendent Rhodes about whether the letter still stands, but did not immediately hear back.
For those who aren’t students or teachers, the #Enough organizers are asking people to wear orange, which is associated with gun violence prevention, or stage workplace walkouts for 17 minutes, according to the Women’s March site.
The Women’s March and Women’s March Youth Empower organizers are also suggesting that people take time to register to vote.
Are there other protests planned following the Parkland shooting?
And there is another walkout planned for April 20, the 19-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The protest, dubbed the National High School Walkout, encourages participants to walk out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. on April 20 and leave school for the day.