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Walkout Wednesday: Students march out of schools nationwide to protest gun violence

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Students nationwide left classes today to participate in a nationwide walkout against gun violence. Organizers chose March 14 because it is one month to the day since a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The protest is slated to last for 17 minutes.

Some schools organized alternative events, such as writing to legislators, listening to speakers and registering to vote, to keep students from leaving school grounds.

Organizers have a list of demands for Congress, including a ban on assault-style weapons and expanded background checks. They oppose the use of guns to protect schools. A group called Empower, the youth arm of the Women’s March, is doing much of the national organizing for what is officially called the #Enough National School Walkout.

In Los Angeles, school administrators urged students to stay on campus. Most followed that recommendation, but students at a mid-city magnet school took their protest down Fairfax.

A new generation of activists

You’re talking about teenagers raised in an era where they know how to harness the power of the internet and social media.

Venice High School teacher Kirsten Farrell

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At the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, students leave campus and walk down Fairfax

Students from the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies carry signs as they walk off campus on March 14.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

While most L.A. students stayed on campus Wednesday during the national school walkouts, those from the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies chose to leave.

Initially, students at the Mid-City magnet had planned to stand on the school’s front lawn and listen to student speakers. But that didn’t seem like it would have enough impact, said junior Lila Roan O’Connell, 16.

“We didn’t feel productive being stagnant in a residential neighborhood, so we decided to walk down the block to Fairfax,” she said in a text message. She said administrators tried to stop them, but students walked right by.

Lila guessed about 800 — or about half of the student body — went along in the traveling protest.

The students walked along Fairfax Avenue, chanting, “Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?” and cut across Airdrome Street to La Cienega Boulevard. They walked in the street, she said, and people honked their car horns in support.

Then the large group turned onto Guthrie Avenue and headed back to the school. They were in their classes again by 11:20 a.m.

“Coming together with my peers, all fighting for something so simple that we can all relate to … was a truly beautiful thing,” Lila said.

L.A. Unified spokeswoman Shannon Haber said the district’s operations and school police teams were in “constant contact” with the school. She said students would not be disciplined for walking out.

“The Principal is focused on ensuring student and employee safety, honoring the student activities/dialogue from the day and ending the school day per normal,” Haber said in an email.

Lila said students weren’t scared of consequences. They were still chanting when they returned to campus and administrators called for silence.

After one staff member told Lila to be quiet, she said, she shot back, “I’m a walking corpse in these halls.”

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Outside L.A. City Hall: ‘Protect our students’

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‘We don’t know where it can happen. We don’t know when it can happen’: L.A.'s students walk out of class and sound off on gun violence

Students across Los Angeles joined thousands nationwide today in walking out of their classes to protest gun violence and school shootings.

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‘She was 17, I am 17': Venice High School students honor the Parkland victims

At 10 a.m. about half of Venice High School’s 2,000 students made their way to the campus’ front lawn, where organizers had set up a display of 14 empty student desks and three teachers’ desks with chairs, representing the 17 Parkland victims.

Activity tables were set up along either side of the school’s iconic sculpture of actress Myrna Loy. At one, students signed petitions — one called for the resumption of federal research into the effects of gun violence; another called for “common sense gun laws.”

At another table, students registered to vote. Other tables allowed students to write personal messages to the Parkland families and letters asking lawmakers to take action on gun control.

At the other end of the lawn, students and faculty members conducted a brief memorial ritual. Each represented one Parkland victim. After identifying themselves, the participant walked to the center of the lawn and laid a flower on an empty chair.

April Cuarenta has read about Helena Ramsay, the Parkland student she represented.

“I got super-emotional,” she said just after the ceremony. “She was 17, I am 17. I want to tell her family that I understand how her life was ripped away. But I can’t imagine what those families are going through.”

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At Garfield, a focus on student choice and remembering the dead

At 10:06 a.m. Wednesday, students in Juan L. Garcia’s AP U.S. history class at Garfield High School stood up.

Led by five students wearing orange, the group walked past a photo of Sal Castro at the 1968 East Los Angeles walkouts, a poster announcing the school district’s “celebration” of those protests and a black-and-white poster of Malcolm X embellished with the quote, “By any means necessary.”

Garcia himself wore a white shirt emblazoned with two orange footprints and "#Enough,” the hashtag for the student-led gun control march, which started at 10 a.m. local time across the country. The footprints represented a student who should have been standing but whose life had been lost to gun violence.

Before they walked out, Garcia’s students studied their rights and read cards that detailed school shootings. Then they wrote messages of solidarity with victims of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, as well as their ideas for tackling gun violence, on orange slips of paper. They stapled them together into a linked chain. Garcia said he would hang the chain from his classroom ceiling.

“Mister, it’s already 10,” one student said, as students were writing their messages.

“We’ll leave in a few minutes,” Garcia said. As they stapled the links, Garcia told them he supported their choices to walk out or stay in class.

“I respect all of your decisions,” he said. “You guys have a voice and your voice cannot be ignored. … If somebody does not agree with you, listen to them.”

Every student left class. So did hundreds of others at Garfield. But they did not walk off campus. Instead, they filed into bleachers in front of the school’s field, where students had cut orange poster paper in the shape of hearts, adorning each with the name of a Parkland shooting victim. As students read each one out loud, they cut an orange balloon off the fence and held a moment of silence.

Student speakers called on lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws, and called on their own school to find more effective ways to keep students safe, instead of relying on random searches, which many students say are targeted and make them feel unwelcome at school.

Kimberly Robles, 17, was in Garcia’s class and helped lead her peers outside. She said she considered leaving campus but that after hearing that adults were guarding the closed entrance gate, she went to the field instead.

The junior said she is used to the sound of the school fire alarm — students pull it often, sometimes twice a week. Before Parkland, she said, she and other students would ignore the alarm.

Not anymore.

“Every time I hear the fire alarm now in the school, I feel like this inner fear where you don’t know [whether] this one’s going to be for real,” she said.

She said she walked out not just to advocate for gun control and improved preventative mental health resources: She felt her school should better prepare students about what to do in case of an active shooter, she said.

“If we don’t speak out about how we feel … there will be no change on our campus,” she said.

School administrators attended the assembly, many wearing orange ribbons to support the movement.

Mario Cantu, Garfield’s principal, was a freshman at Wilson High School in 1968 when he and his peers walked out of class to demand better treatment for Mexican American students.

“I walked out to the street but I had no idea what I was walking out for,” Cantu said before the walkout.

“I wish I’d have been more informed .. .we absolutely didn’t have a voice,” he said.

Before the walkouts Wednesday morning, Cantu said he would not stop students from walking out of class or campus, but that no matter what they did, “I want to make sure our students are informed.”

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Students at Granada Hills spell out ‘ENOUGH’ on football field

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California legislators join student protests over gun laws

More than 30 California state lawmakers walked out of the Capitol on Wednesday morning to support national student protests for stricter gun laws.

The legislators, joined by staff members and young people, stood in silence for 17 minutes in homage to the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last month.

“Today’s actions in silence were the loudest advocacy for gun control in the history of America,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) after the protest.

Jones-Sawyer, who is chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, said lawmakers wanted to show solidarity with students across the country and pledged to strengthen the state’s gun control laws.

“We’ve done a lot in California, but it looks like we haven’t done enough,” he said.

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‘No more guns,’ Miguel Contreras students chant

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Nickelodeon, MTV went off air for 17 minutes in honor of Parkland shooting victims

Nickelodeon and MTV — networks that have welcomed generations of children and teenagers to television — went off the air for 17 minutes on Wednesday in support of those participating in National Walkout Day one month after the Parkland, Fla., shooting.

“In support of kids leading the way today, Nickelodeon will be off the air until 17 minutes past the hour,” viewers were informed.

“The next 17 minutes are dedicated to young people who are leading the fight against gun violence,” read a message on MTV before flashing photos of those who died in the Parkland shooting.

Viacom, the media company behind Nickelodeon and MTV, also planned to pause programming for its other networks, including BET and Comedy Central.

The reaction was mixed. Many tweeted their support for the decision.

“My 4 year old & I are sitting here in solidarity. Young people will lead his way!” One mom tweeted.

Others expressed frustration.

“Don’t drag my toddlers into this!” another mom wrote.

Student activists also took over MTV’s Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat accounts during the walkouts.

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FOR THE RECORD

10:50 a.m.: An earlier version of this article misquoted part of the message that MTV aired. The correct message was: “The next 17 minutes are dedicated to young people who are leading the fight against gun violence.”

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A timeline of recent mass shootings

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Gun violence disproportionately targets young adults

Teens and young adults are most likely to be victims of shootings compared to other types of violence, according to the National Institute of Justice.

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Venice High School students walk outside with a commemorative banner

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For 17 minutes, they sat in silence, backs turned to the White House

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At this New Jersey high school, just one student walked out

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In the wake of the deadly high school shooting in Florida, students stage walkouts nationwide to call for stricter gun laws

Students all across the country — from middle school to college — began planned walkouts on Wednesday, calling on lawmakers in state legislatures and in Congress to enact stricter gun laws in the wake of the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A month after 17 students and instructors were killed at the school here in Parkland, Fla., nearly 3,000 schools across the nation planned to leave class at 10 a.m. local time Wednesday for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas, two walkouts were planned. Citing safety concerns, student government officials and administrators urged students not to leave campus, but to walk to the football field with teachers. Yet some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

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What the school walkouts looked like on the East Coast, in sun and snow

Students up and down the East Coast were the first to walk out of school on Wednesday. This is what their demonstrations looked like.

In New York:

In Philadelphia:

In snowy Boston:

In Newark, N.J.:

At a Raleigh, N.C., high school, a threat postponed the walkouts:

In Atlanta, students dropped to their knees:

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L.A. mother supports her sons’ walkouts

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LAPD urges students who walk out of class to stay on campus

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Watch a livestream of walkout activities, as broadcast by a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student

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Teacher accidentally fires gun during safety lecture at Monterey County high school

A teacher at a Monterey County high school accidentally fired a gun in a classroom Tuesday afternoon during a lecture on “public safety awareness,” authorities said.

Dennis Alexander, who also serves as a reserve police officer with Sand City, discharged the weapon at Seaside High School about 1:20 p.m., according to the Seaside Police Department.

Police Chief Abdul Pridgen told the Salinas Californian that the teacher was pointing the gun at the ceiling when he inadvertently fired it.

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Students nationwide will walk out of classes to push for stricter gun control

From New York to Los Angeles, Maine to Texas, tens of thousands of students nationwide are expected to walk out of class this morning and participate in other actions to call attention to the effects of gun violence and call for stricter gun control laws.

The walkouts are expected to last 17 minutes to pay homage to the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., exactly one month ago.

Students are hoping their show of unity will encourage lawmakers to take action to stop the steady drum of gun violence on campus after campus.

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Ready, set, walk out: Schools prepare for expected student protests on Wednesday

As a 16-year-old in high school and a student of history, Axel Ortega faces a tough choice on Wednesday morning: Does he walk out of class at Garfield to take a stand or stay put? And if he walks out, does he leave his East Los Angeles campus?

Axel’s principal and other administrators also have been pondering what choices Axel and other students will make and how to respond.

Wednesday is the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Student activists across America have declared it a national day of action to raise awareness about the effects of gun violence and push for lawmakers to take action to reduce it. Many different activities have been planned, and thousands of students from coast to coast are expected to walk out of classes for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 killed in Parkland.

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Peninsula-area plan for National School Walkout on March 14

Students and school staff across the country are planning to participate in a national walkout on March 14 in response to the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that left 17 dead.

The walkout comes a month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has fueled national and local conversations about students’ safety in schools.

President Donald Trump has suggested arming teachers to act as a deterrent to possible acts of violence, something that Peninsula-area school divisions either disagreed with or deferred comment on.

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Walkouts over gun violence planned at Glendale schools next month

Crescenta Valley High School students plan to protest gun violence and encourage politicians to enact gun control legislation by holding a walkout on March 14.

The students’ actions are part of a nationwide movement that emerged after a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14. Students across the country plan to walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. on March 14 for 17 minutes, in honor of each person who died in the incident.

The walkout at Crescenta Valley High is still in the early planning stages as the student government wants to plan it in a way that doesn’t completely disrupt classes, according to 17-year-old Zach Johnson.

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Local students to participate in National School Walkout to protest gun violence

Students at Corona del Mar High School plan to walk out of their classrooms March 14 to protest gun violence and urge Congress to take action following the recent high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

They will join the nationwide movement championed by the Women’s March organization in which students, teachers and school administrators are encouraged to leave their schools at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes to remember the 17 victims who died in the shooting.

Junior Ayden Bird, 17, is organizing the effort at Corona del Mar High on social media with plans for speeches and a moment of silence.

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L.A. Unified commemorates 50th anniversary of Eastside walkouts, but tells students to stay in class March 14

Fifty years ago, Mexican American students in East L.A. high schools walked out of class and launched a historic movement protesting substandard conditions in their schools.

Garfield High School, where the walkouts began March 5, 1968, commemorated that movement Thursday by ceding the stage to its current students. One group performed a musical history of the so-called blowouts: “We’ve got to walk out, walk out for justice. We’ve got to walk out, walk out for brown rights.” A young man recited a poem he had written about what it means to be Chicano in East L.A. today.

In 1968, students were trying to call attention to a host of problems in their schools, including massive class sizes, racist teachers and the use of corporal punishment, said Yoli Rios, who walked out of Lincoln High School half a century ago. She told hundreds of Garfield students gathered for a special assembly that her math teacher would put an assignment on the board, then pull out a putter and and practice his golf.

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas students sound off ahead of the March 14 walkout

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LAUSD officials encourage students to engage in ’17 acts of kindness’

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Los Angeles Unified School District officials reiterated their safety concerns about planned student walkouts and encouraged students to engage in “17 acts of kindness” throughout the month of March, in honor of the people killed in the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

“As our hearts and minds remain focused on the tragedy in Florida, community groups around the nation are organizing to advocate around gun control and school safety,” interim Supt. Vivian Ekchian said at the meeting. She encouraged students to “lend their voices and take political action,” but added that “we want to ensure, however, that our students remain safe.”

Ekchian had said in a previous statement that parents should encourage their children not to walk off their campuses Wednesday.

The district has sanctioned a number of school events on Wednesday, including a “stay-in” at Carson High School. At Tuesday’s meeting, Nyanga Nyandemoh, 17, a Carson senior, mentioned plans to assemble in the school’s quad. Student leaders, she said, would discuss their thoughts on Parkland while circulating petitions on school safety.

“We want safety in our classrooms, in our hallways and on the steps as we enter,” Nyanga said. “We want to hear the sounds of bells, not guns, announcing that schools are in session.”

Student board member Ben Holzman, a Hamilton High School student, encouraged his peers to take more than 17 minutes to learn about gun control and contact their lawmakers to make their voices heard.

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A memorial to children killed by gun violence

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Remembering a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student

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Echoes of 1968’s East L.A. student walkout resonate in today’s protests for better gun laws

To the editor: On March 5,1968, Mexican American high school students from East Los Angeles walked out of class to protest substandard education, racist teachers and police beatings. These Chicano students did what adults failed to do: Take action. (“East L.A., 1968: ‘Walkout!’ The day high school students helped ignite the Chicano power movement,” March 1)

While walkouts seldom bring about change by themselves, what was clear about the East L.A. protest was that Latinos who speak up and work together can be a catalyst for positive change.

Today’s high school students are also doing what adults have failed to do: Demand stronger gun control laws. How many more young lives do we need to lose at schools before our elected officials understand we must push for tougher gun control laws? As a father of two teenagers, I pray every morning that my kids are safe when they go to school. I want them to express their voices loud and clear at the upcoming nationwide walkout on March 14.

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