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Marching and Mourning: Students Protesting Florida Lawmakers in Wake of Parkland Shootings Inspire Wave of Walkouts, Vigils Around the Country

By Laura Fay | February 21, 2018

Students from Montgomery Blair High School march down Colesville Road in support of gun reform legislation on Feb. 21, 2018, in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As survivors of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, took buses to the state capitol to implore lawmakers to enact stricter gun control, like-minded students around the country staged marches and walkouts to cast a national spotlight on the tragedy.

“Our message is very simple,” Tanzil Philip, 16, told the Miami Herald. “Never again. This never should have happened.”

The message reverberated around the nation.

Students in Independence, Kentucky, walked out of school for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. District officials said the protest was student-led but supported by the district.

In Florida, about 100 students from Parkland took buses to Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon after attending a funeral for a classmate, one of 17 killed in the shooting. They spent the night in the local civic center, welcomed by students and staff from nearby Leon High School.

Hundreds of students board buses to take their message to Tallahassee to protest the deaths of 17 students and teachers who were killed on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the second-deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school. (Photo credit: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

 

State Sen. Lauren Book, a Democrat, also spoke with the students and spent the night with them. Book helped organize meetings for the students as well.

On Wednesday morning, the students broke into smaller groups for more than 70 meetings with Florida lawmakers and officials.

Some lawmakers welcomed the student activists.

Students gathered in the state Senate chamber to watch a session.

Inside the Senate chamber, a student spoke about one of the victims before explaining her argument for stricter gun regulations.

“She was going to change the world, and I’m sure of that,” the student said about her classmate. “But she doesn’t have the chance now.”

Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, a Republican, told the students he and his colleagues were working as fast as they could.

“We are moving as quickly as the system allows, with the urgency that is deserving of the emotion and the concern that … I feel,” Bradley said.

Some students watched from the gallery Tuesday night as Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives voted not to debate a ban on assault weapons, which would have outlawed the gun used in the shooting at their school February 14.

Students were scheduled to speak with Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, at 5 p.m. in a closed-door meeting before heading back to South Florida, according to a schedule posted by Book.

Meanwhile, protesters marched to the capitol in Tallahassee, shouting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Vote them out!” Capitol police estimated 3,000 protesters were in the crowd, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The Parkland students, who quickly became known nationwide after harnessing the power of social media and appearing on Sunday news shows, inspired other students to join the cause.

Students in Silver Spring, Maryland, marched in solidarity.

Students from Montgomery Blair High School march down Colesville Road in support of gun reform legislation on Feb. 21, 2018, in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 

Students also showed support with marches, walkouts, and rallies across Florida and around the country.

A teacher praised the students at this walkout in Upper Arlington, Ohio.

The students have also garnered high-profile support from Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, and others.

A series of events are planned for the coming months, including a march in Washington, D.C., March 24, and nationwide school walkouts on March 14 and April 20, the 19th anniversary of the deadly Columbine High School shooting.

The March 14 effort is supported by the youth branch of the Women’s March organization.

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