Walkout for Parkland
By Emelia Persell
It’s hard not to know about the recent school shootings around America. Their effects are widespread; from victims dealing with grief, to people across the country thinking, “what if that happened here?” Perhaps even more disquieting, the people who relate to the shooter, who keep the cycle of violence alive.
A group of students* from Edmonds Woodway have decided to take action. Three Edmonds Woodway students created an Instagram account, @ewhswalkout, on March 1st to organize and publicize school walkouts on March 14th and April 20th. I spoke with the students to get a better look at how these students feel about gun violence in America.
The recent shooting in Parkland, Florida catalyzed the upcoming walkout. On February 14, 2018, a shooter opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school, killing 17 and injuring 17 more. Students who wish to participate will leave class at 10am on March 14th and go to the courtyard for 17 minutes, to represent the 17 deaths from the shooting. Participants are encouraged to dress in all black. All three students would like to remind participants that “it is illegal for a student participating in a non-violent walkout to be punished further than for their absence…your parents/guardians can call the office and have it excused”. She also provided a link to the ACLU’s website explaining student’s rights in this situation.
When asked about why these students wanted to take action, one administrator of the account said, “I am indescribably angry. I want to stand up and shout for the victims…I am tired of living in fear. I don’t want to have to learn how to protect myself if there is an active shooter on campus, and I don’t want to be scared in my school — a place of learning and education — any longer…thoughts and prayers are not enough, and I want to honor the victims of school shootings by making a change and preventing future deaths…children should not be dying any longer.” Another added that “all school shootings in American history are unacceptable and could’ve been [prevented]…these people had friends, families, jobs, passions, and dreams. No one deserves to be forgotten.” Additionally, she reminded students that “no one has to have direct ties to shootings to understand that further deaths need to be prevented and that action needs to be taken.” The third administrator added that “ I do not want my family or friends to have to grieve for me if I were to become a future victim.”
This walkout is not the only way to get involved in the recent events. The administrators of the account gave some alternatives, “[students] can join anti-gun groups, vote (you only have to be 17 and a half to register in Washington), contact their representatives, and otherwise express their voice. It’s essential that students get involved in politics”. They provided some organizations to get involved with, including Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Ceasefire, and Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. One of the other students added “Always ask about guns the first time you enter a private residence. Always report people you think may be mentally ill and have access to a gun, or want to hurt others/themselves.”
The hashtag #neveragain has been used to describe the recent shootings, but one of the students would like to remind students that the phrase has been historically utilized in conjunction with the Holocaust. “As a proud Jew, the blatant erasure has made me incredibly uncomfortable, and I would just like people to be aware that #notonemore is an original hashtag that gets the point across without erasing the pain of the Jewish people.”
All students are welcome to participate in the walkout this Wednesday. Follow @ewhswalkout on Instagram for more information or if you have questions.
*The names of the organizers have been removed to protect them.