Capitol Hill, Central District students speak out against gun violence for #NationalWalkoutDay

With reporting from Michelle MacKinnon and Alex Garland

Students and supporters walked out of their schools across Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Seattle Wednesday at 10 AM to come together for 17 minutes of silence to honor the one month anniversary of Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting that has reignited calls for gun control reform.

The actions Wednesday are part of a wave of activity including town halls with Governor Jay Inslee and Rep. Pramila Jayapal leading up to the March 24th March for Our Lives protest march starting at Cal Anderson Park.

At the Central District’s Garfield High School, student organizers were looking beyond school shootings. “We are planning March For Our Lives and participating in school walkouts because we want change and refuse to be ignored in our pursuit of it,” student Bridget Fox told CHS. “We hope to bring attention to the fact that gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color and other marginalized communities, and we strive to find methods of legislation that won’t have further unintended consequences in such places.”


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Saturday, student organizers will be joined by Rep. Jayapal in a town hall in advance of the big March 24th march “to discuss the movement to end gun violence in our communities.” “At the town hall, attendees are encouraged to make their voice heard on this public health crisis, as a build up to the youth-led national day of action on March 24th,” Jayapal’s office writes.

“I feel like youth around the nation seeing that students can take the lead on this inspires them to increase their own role in their own community,”Maple Valley student Rhiannon Rasaretnam told CHS about the march and organizing effort around Seattle. “I want the focus to be on the face a lot of these marches are being led by the students.”

“All of these actions are drawing the attention to the fact that students are the ones holding elected officials accountable,” Rasaretnam said.

Wednesday, following the moments of silence outside the 23rd Ave school where Garfield students were joined by dozens of young people from Washington Middle School, organizers provided materials for writing letters to elected officials and while eligible students registered to vote.

At Capitol Hill’s Seattle Academy, middle schoolers joined their high school elders in 17 minutes of silence at the bustling corner of 12th and Madison as busy street traffic whizzed by and construction crews busy building the school’s new “vertical campus” building continued their work above.

A student read the names of those killed in Parkland, one name per minute as the crowd of kids stood together. Following the silence, the high schoolers marched toward Capitol Hill Station where they caught light rail to join students from across the city in a rally at the University of Washington.

“Kids being scared of an AR-15 coming into their school shouldn’t be something we even need to worry about, yet here we are,” said one academy senior.

“We feel mostly safe because we are so close to the police station but you know it’s not all about us, it’s about the other schools who are at more of a risk and we want to protect them too,” Celeste, a junior, told CHS.

The walkout was student led and organized by the Associated Student Body at SAAS. Students used social media and word of mouth to spread the news to each other while the school waived attendance rules in support of the march.

“We can no longer depend on politicians who take money from the NRA to protect us in our school,” said ASB member Lake Lewis. “This is where we come to learn and this is where we seek structure.”

Students organizing the multi-high school gathering at UW told CHS they were calling for a “ban on Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines, Federal Gun Violence Restraining Order Laws, and Background checks on all Gun Sales.”

“We are tired of waiting for adults to take actions,” University Prep student organizer Sam Kim said. “We are ready to take matters into our own hands.”

After their light rail ride, Seattle Academy students were slated to meet up with groups from several other high schools at UW. Earlier in the day, Gov. Inslee attended the walkout at Ballard High School while Mayor Jenny Durkan was slated to join the rally in UW’s Red Square. “Our young people are speaking out to reduce gun violence, and we should listen. Commonsense gun laws protect our City, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our children. Students are demanding change, and we must act to fight gun violence together,” the mayor said in a statement.

With Reel Grrls signed up to help as a fiscal sponsor, March for Our Lives Seattle organizers are working to raise $50,000 to put on the March 24th protest march. “We ask the community to help us raise the funds to pay for necessary expenditures such as permits, security, transportation for youth across the state, promotional materials, and to launch the #Raceto18 – a voter registration campaign for teens across America,” the group writes. You can give here.

March For Our Lives – Seattle

 

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2 thoughts on “Capitol Hill, Central District students speak out against gun violence for #NationalWalkoutDay

  1. I heard a young girl talk about her biggest fear with school shootings being the fact that her little sister is autistic and that she can’t keep quiet if a shooter were to come into her school. this high school girl fears not only for her sister but that the entire class will be shot because of her. FUCK YOU NRA for bringing absolute horror to the lives of our children. This tide will turn and I’m certain these kids will get it done. They don’t have a choice since adults have left them to die in their classrooms and communities, 7,000 since Sandy Hook. I think we’ll look back on this time the same way we look at other atrocities around the world. Absolutely shameful.

  2. I haven’t had much hope for the future of our country since the day Trump was elected. But seeing these kids — first those from Parkland, and now all across the country — stand up loud and proud to all the lies and money and pressure and obfuscation — has given me reason to hope again.