Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Austin area students stage walkouts in solidarity with Florida students calling for stricter gun laws

Today, on a cold, wet day in Austin, several hundred middle and high school students walked out of school during lunch hours and spoke out in solidarity with Florida students calling for stricter gun laws.  It's inspiring to see students using their First Amendment rights in this way.  Their strong statements and collective actions are making government leaders pay attention.

Here is an account from this afternoon's online Austin American-Statesman by writers Mary Huber and Melissa Taboada:

School officials now estimate that nearly 500 students at three Austin area school districts are participating in walkouts to show their solidarity with students in Florida demanding stricter gun laws.The Dripping Springs school district said more than 300 students walked off several of its campuses during lunch hour. At the Dripping Springs High School, they gathered in front of the flag pole outside and provided brief remarks, officials said.

"It is past time for elected officials to make a change and work diligently towards keeping the students of this country safe,” said Dripping Springs senior Meredith Anderson, one of the student walkout organizers. “No student in this country should have to fear for their life as they enter their school building. We hope to inspire elected officials to take an active stance on protecting our schools, and we hope to have our voices heard. This is a bipartisan issue that needs to be addressed fully and comprehensively to ensure the safety of this nation's children."

A walkout at Clint Small Middle School in Southwest Austin also started at lunch hour Wednesday afternoon. The school’s principal, Matthew Nelson, said in a letter to parents that additional police officers had been sent to the campus as more than 100 students left the school. The walkout is still ongoing. Nelson said the extra police were not sent to campus “to stop the event” but “to ensure students remained safe.”

“We encourage our students to exercise their rights and to be civically engaged members of the community,” Nelson said in the letter. “We do strongly believe, however, that the safest place to have these discussions is inside our school buildings.”

Another 30 students walked out of Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, Leander school district officials said, along with 15 from Austin High School and 50 from East View High School in Georgetown, school officials said.Both the Vista Ridge High School and East View High School demonstrations lasted 17 minutes, to honor the 17 people who died after a gunman opened fire at a Florida high school last week, officials said.The walkouts come alongside other similar demonstrations and rallies across the country after the Florida shooting.

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