Here’s Why Today’s School Walkouts Actually Matter | News

Here’s Why Today’s School Walkouts Actually Matter

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This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here.

All over the country today, students will walk out of their classrooms at ten a.m. for seventeen minutes to show solidarity with the seventeen people killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month and to call for gun reforms.
  • From USA Today: “Students at more than 2,800 schools and colleges have signed up to participate, according to Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, which is helping students coordinate the events. Organizers are urging students at all schools, from elementary schools to universities, to take part. Even parents, teachers and others are encouraged to walk out of their jobs at 10 a.m. School walkouts are planned throughout the U.S. and as far as Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany. Students in the Washington, D.C., area are scheduled to march from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, where Democratic lawmakers will walk out and join them. Wednesday's walkouts will mark the first in a series of events in March and April organized by students across the nation as part of the #NeverAgain movement. Another walkout is scheduled on April 20 to mark the 19th year since the Columbine High School massacre. A massive rally dubbed March For Our Lives is planned March 24 in Washington. The event is expected to attract 500,000 people and has spurred sister marches in every state.”
  • These walkouts will take place in our neck of the woods, too: “This isn't the first time students have attempted to make their voices heard in the Triangle since the Parkland shooting. In late February, a group largely organized by Wake County students marched to the State Capitol Building in Raleigh to call for stricter gun regulations. Schools across the region have also been the site of protests, including Green Hope High School, where about two thousand students (over two-thirds of the student body) walked out to advocate for gun reform.”
  • From the N&O: “Colleges and universities around the country, including Duke, N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University, have said high school students can join peaceful protests without having to worry about it affecting their admissions chances. With so many students expected to take part in the walkouts, Wake school officials are telling students they won’t be punished for the protests if they work ahead of time with their principals to make sure the events are safe. Principals have been working with students to set up safe places for the walkouts with staff expected to be monitoring them during the event.”
  • Other local school districts also say they won’t punish student demonstrators.
  • Programming note: the INDY will have writers embedded in the walkouts at two local high schools, so check our website later in the afternoon for our reports. If our technology cooperates, we’ll also be Facebook-Living and/or Periscoping these things as they happen, so check our social media feeds.

WHAT IT MEANS: I assumed that Parkland would follow the predictable cycle of mass shootings: outrage, demands for action, foot-dragging by NRA-beholden politicians, public sentiment reverting to the mean. But this time actually has been different. Look at this chart from the polling outfit Civiqs. See that bump after Las Vegas—but that much bigger bump after Parkland?

  • And in Florida, where the massacre occurred, the Republican legislature passed a law requiring a waiting period for all gun purchases and requiring rifle-purchasers to be twenty-one rather than eighteen. (The NRA has sued, of course.) Sure, the bill is weak tea—it doesn’t ban assault rifles, it will arm some teachers, and there are lots of loopholes, particularly for private-party sales—but Republicans were pushed to defy their NRA overlords, and that’s at least something.
  • So don’t assume that the kids can’t finally, at long last, move the needle on this issue. They are proving that they can. Or maybe the rest of us are proving that we’ve had enough. Or maybe both.



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