America’s school students and supportive staff are calling for two walkouts in the coming months to bring attention to the barrage of school shootings that have taken place — 18 this year already — from coast to coast.
Here’s what information is available about these walkouts so far — in addition to a march on Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 24:
Friday, April 20, 2018
This walkout effort includes a Change.org petition with the goal of collecting 50,000 signatures, and a Twitter account — @schoolwalkoutus — that serves as an information stream. It will be at 10 a.m. across each time zone (“Think of it as “rolling” across the country,” say its organizers.) This walkout is focused on high school students but its Twitter feed confirms that elementary and college students have been supportive, and many are also planning to walk out of class.
“The majority of teenagers have no right to vote, leaving our voice unheard,” contend the organizers on their Change.org page. “The government does not hear or care how these tragedies affect our lives.”
Students at this walkout are encouraged to wear the the color orange on the day, which falls on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado when twelve students and one teacher were killed. The shooters chose April 20 because it was Hitler’s birthday, it was later learned.
“Nothing has changed since Columbine, let us start a movement that lets the government know the time for change is now,” they say.
April 20 has long been an unofficial pot-smoker’s holiday, a fact not lost on commenters: “Like we don’t know what these kids are really planning on doing on 4/20,” commented one of many who pointed out the date’s other significance. “We are aware of the significance of the date. This issue of school shootings is important enough that we hope that is what people focus on,” replied the official Twitter account five minutes later.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Using the hashtag #Enough on social media, this walkout is being organized by the people behind the Women’s March, and calls for 17-minute walk-out at 10 a.m. across each time zone to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.” The group has put together a map of walkouts that appears to show participating schools. “Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day,” call the petitioners.
What’s the difference between the two marches?
The April 20 march is an all-day walkout, while the March 14 walkout is for 17 minutes, a minute for each of the people who died on February 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“We have contacted them, no response yet. We prefer an all day to their 14 minutes,” tweeted the organizers of the April 20 walkout, incorrectly commenting it was 14 minutes instead of the correct 17. “We prefer a full-day movement,” the organizers also commented.
Many schools offer a spring break period around the dates of both marches.