Students Participate in Nationwide Walkout for Gun Control

Senior Saumya Mangalick speaks to March 14 walkout participants.

Anjali Aralikar, page editor

One month after the tragic school shooting in Parkland, FL, over four hundred Edina High School students walked out of their classes at 10 AM on March 14. Although they only walked towards the bus drop off behind EHS, these students joined a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence and the failure of the federal government to pass any gun control legislation, even after tragedies like the mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last month and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in 2012. “We are here today to say enough is enough,” senior and walkout organizer Jhamese Harvey said. “Enough with the excuses, enough with the thoughts and prayers. This is not about politics, this is about our lives.”

The walkout lasted a total of seventeen minutes, one minute to commemorate each of the seventeen lives that were lost in the deadly school shooting. First, walkout organizers Harvey, Max North, Saumya Mangalick, Lily Goldaris, and Sally Carlson led 170 seconds of silence to honor the lives lost. Next, seniors Josh Felton, Anna Lampron, Joe Hellickson, Charlie Finkenaur, and Jackson Lomax performed a musical tribute to honor the victims. The piece was a New Orleans funeral march and was arranged as a jazz number by Finkenaur.

The main event of the walkout was the speech given by Harvey and North. In this speech, Harvey and North expressed the desires of students to feel safe in schools and to have stricter gun control laws. “There have been 240 school shootings since Sandy Hook back in 2012. 136 innocent people have died and not a single thing has been done other than send thoughts and prayers,” North said. “The fact that I had to change that number twice since I wrote this speech two weeks ago is why we are here today.”

Harvey expressed her grief about the loss of life and lack of change. “Seventeen. Seventeen lives gone and there’s nothing we can do,” Harvey said. “This list should not have been this long, this list should not have even existed.” She further apologizes to the Marjory Douglas students because their representatives prioritized “receiving money from the NRA” over their lives. “Was the money worth it?” Harvey asked of those representatives.

North also expressed his concerns about President Trump’s proposition to arm teachers. “So you mean to tell me that you want to put more guns in our school?” North asked. “What’s going to stop a teacher or another student from using it on someone else….What if it was their own student? Could they even pull the trigger? What then? Are they at fault for not ending someone else’s life?” North furthered his discontent by proposing a better solution. “Putting guns in the hands of our teachers is fighting fire with fire, which could be effective but not [as effective as] if we could just put the fire out,” North said.

The speech concluded with a call to action. “Honoring [the 17 students that died] is more than sending thoughts and prayers. It’s working to make things better. It’s yelling louder and louder until the government will finally hear us. It’s fighting for our rights to feel safe in schools. It’s not taking no for an answer,” Harvey declared. “We will not stop fighting, we will not stop working, and we will not stop honoring the fallen. Yes, people pull the trigger, but guns are the instrument of death.”

Both the speech and the walkout were well received by students. Many believed the speech touched on the important aspects of this issue and inspired them to take action. “I think [the speech] captured a lot of people’s ideas of this very bad issue. We definitely need to work more to ensure that more lives aren’t lost,” sophomore Phoebe Taiwo said.

The walkout also sparked discussion of gun control around school. “I just think it’s completely ridiculous that anyone should even be scared at school,” freshman Louise Toner said. “This is a public school, it’s a government organization, it’s run by ‘government officials’ (or teachers). It should be safe. It’s the same way you secure the treasury department [because of the money]. We’re just as precious! We’re human beings!”

It also allowed EHS students to show solidarity with the survivors of the Parkland shooting. “I think it’s really good that [these school walkouts] are nationwide and that we’re all supporting each other, because if [a school shooting] happened to our school, it would have had the same effect as all the other schools that are dealing with this situation,” sophomore Bella White said. “I just feel like everyone supporting everyone is going to make us come together, which is obviously really good.”

Even EHS parents supported the walkout. One EHS parent, Sayali Amarapurkar, was present during the walkout. “I really feel that I need to support the youth who are doing this,” Amarapurkar said. “It’s really something to stand for this cause and it’s an important cause to stand for, for now and for the future.” She believed the students who participated were “brave.” “It’s a very powerful movement and it was really touching to hear the students speak up,” Amarapurkar said.

As of now, some students are planning for further protest. There is talk GroupMe messaging chat, which was used to plan the walkout, of attending marches and protests in the state capitol. It seems the students of EHS want the government to hear their voices and make immediate change. “[The government] needs to listen to the voice of the people, no matter how long it takes,” junior Abdirahman Mohammed said.

Regardless of whether there will be further protests or not, the rest of the day passed by relatively peacefully, just as both the administration and walkout organizers wanted. There was still the remnants of a charged feeling in the air. Many at EHS stand in solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as the thousands of high schools across the nation, to demand change and the right to feel safe in school.