New Jersey

#ENOUGH: Thousands of NY, NJ Students Close Textbooks, Walk Out of Class to Protest Gun Violence

Dozens of schools around New York City will be taking part in the national show of solidarity

What to Know

  • Dozens of schools around NYC will be walking out of class at 10 a.m. with thousands of others in the country to protest gun violence
  • The national demonstration comes a month to the day since 17 people were gunned down inside a Parkland, Florida, high school
  • Around 300 schools across the tri-state area will be showing some kind of support to call for gun control


March 14 marks one month since 17 people were gunned down at a Florida high school, a shooting that has sparked outrage across the country and cries for more strict gun control. 

At 10 a.m., students across the country walked out of their schools for 17 minutes -- one minute for each victim who lost their lives -- during the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. 

The coordinated walkout was organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women's March. Organizers say nearly 3,000 walkouts were set to take place with dozens of schools around New York City taking part in the national show of solidarity.

Mayor de Blasio was at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn where he told students that the gun control movement initiated through students is "powerful."

"You are making it so clear to this country that you are sick of violence, sick of madness, sick of the slaughter and you won't stand for it," de Blasio said.

Gov. Cuomo also participated in the demonstration with students from Leadership and Public Service High School in Lower Manhattan by laying on the ground in Zuccotti Park among the protestors.

In a tweet, Cuomo said that he was "proud to join the students."

The Department of Education sent a letter to students and families saying it supports student participating in the walkout, but it will take additional measures to ensure safety of all students and staff members. 

"Participating in a walkout like the one planned is an individual decision that we encourage families to discuss together," NYC DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in the letter. "For anyone who participates in the walkout, it is important to do so in a safe and respectful manner."

Protestors against gun violence also demonstrated across the street from Trump Towers.

Hundreds of high school students in Ridgewood, New Jersey, also participated in the walkout. They gathered behind the school building where student leaders gave speeches where they said they were scared of gun violence. 

In Linden, New Jersey, students also participated in the demonstration and had a sit-in where students were advocating for gun control.

"I think students are choosing to demonstrate in different ways maybe for different reasons. Maybe the students who are sitting in are sitting in to honor the lives and maybe the students who are walking out are walking out because they want to speak out and they want to make their presence known and to say that change is needed," Yelena Horre, principal Linden High School, said, adding that she was "proud of all" her students and "the fact that they have a voice."

However, other local school districts threatened disciplinary action against students who decide to participate in the demonstration. 

Students in Sayreville, New Jersey, faced two days of suspension if they participated in the protest. 

"I would rather my kids be in school safe and I don't believe this demonstration is really going to change anything," said Veena Birthwal, whose children attend school in Sayreville.

Despite some parents support of the district's officials, many believe the students should be marching. 

"I think that's wrong," said Lisa Whiteman, whose grandchild goes to school in Sayreville. "I think we need to show solidarity." 

Other districts throughout the state, meanwhile, are taking a different approach. At Freehold High School, students weren't being encouraged to walk out. But they didn't face punishment if they did, and the district worked with them to find other ways for their voices to be heard on issues such as gun control.

"They're going to write letters to political leaders, to register to vote and to learn more about the March 24 movement," said Freehold High School Principal Linda Jewell, referencing the March For Our Lives, a student march in Washington D.C. on March 24 to end gun violence. 

The walkout in Hackensack, according to The Record, was canceled due to a security threat. Several students told school officials about rumors of violence. Instead, student organizers shared a presentation that was streamed to all classrooms.

Schools throughout Hackensack haved an increased police presence as a precaution.

College students, staff and faculty also took part in National School Walkout, including those at Purchase College, part of the State University of New York. In a statement the college also said it would not rescind the acceptances or look unfavorably at high school students who participated in the walkout, but received disciplinary actions by their schools.

Around 300 schools across the tri-state area showed some kind of support. 

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