Everything You Need to Know About the Enough National School Walkout
News of the Parkland school shooting left the entire country outraged and confused. What can be done? How can we stop this from happening again? Well, nobody answered these questions more rapidly than those who survived the Feb. 14 tragedy.
Searching for answers and demanding stricter gun laws, the inspiring students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School set out on a mission, and their bravery has been nothing short of extraordinary.
The walkout took place March 14
The National School Walkout took place March 14 — a significant date for those who lived the tragedy. It was exactly one month after the shooting, during which gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire and killed 17 students and faculty.
Protests began at 10 a.m. local time, and the walkout lasted for 17 minutes, one minute to commemorate each life lost.
Next: Here’s the organization behind it.
This organization is helping students with the walkout
A walkout may seem like a natural course of action that’s easy enough, but a surprising amount of organization went into the event. “The walkout is open to American students, teachers and staff,” CNN reports. “But the idea originated with EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, and it’s the main national voice encouraging people to participate.”
Next: Will the message be heard?
The event hoped to send a message
Was the Enough National School Walkout inspired by the students of Stoneman Douglas? Yes, but the message hoped to be far-reaching and multifaceted. The event served as both a memorial for those who died and a protest.
According to Women’s March Youth Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard Jacobs, the walkout “is about calling out gun violence,” ABC News reports.
Next: We hope Congress listens.
The protesters wanted Congress to declare gun violence a public health crisis
In addition to the memorial component in which participants honored the 17 people who died in the Parkland shooting, the event focused on specific demands. The event’s website reads:
“We demand that Congress enact an immediate resolution declaring gun violence a public health crisis and dedicating federal funding to research solutions and implement violence intervention programs. We demand Congress recognize all forms of gun violence, including violence committed by police.”
Next: Here’s what the event supports and opposes.
The event supported specific policies
Any well-thought-out protest has a list of demands or actions participants hope to achieve. Here are the policies the Enough National School Walkout supported:
- Banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines
- Requiring background checks for all gun sales
- Passing a gun violence restraining order law allowing courts to disarm those with warning signs of violent behavior
- The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act
The event opposed Conceal Carry Reciprocity and “any legislation that would aim to fortify our schools with more guns.”
Next: The students have help and support from Empower.
Here’s how Empower is helping students organize their own walkouts
Given the nature of the event, along with the remarkable student leadership we’ve seen following the Parkland shooting, it’s no surprise these walkouts are organized by the students themselves. But not without a little encouragement — and a tool kit — from Empower.
Within each Empower tool kit is a step-by-step guide on how to organize a walkout, sample letters to administrators requesting permission to participate, and an explanation of students’ rights.
Next: Were students disciplined if they participated?
Students do have rights but can still be punished
It’s a student’s choice whether they want to participate, and some schools were more lenient than others. According to CNN, “Schools have threatened to slap students with unexcused absences, docked grades or suspensions if they choose to join the walkout. Some school districts that originally took that stance have since backed off and have tried to compromise.”
Furthermore, the American Civil Liberties Union says though a school can discipline students for missing class, “what the school can’t do is discipline students more harshly because they are walking out to express a political view or because school administrators don’t support the views behind the protest.”
Next: Here’s what’s next.
This call to action won’t end after the walkout
The efforts will continue well after the walkout is over. After all, these determined voices will not be stifled.
Next on their list is the March for Our Lives protest on March 24. Participants will march in Washington, D.C., to protest gun violence in an effort to eradicate mass school shootings in the future. After that, there will be another observance day on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.
So will this National School Walkout be enough to convince lawmakers we need stricter gun laws? We’ll see.
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