The tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has inspired youth to stand up and speak out against gun violence in hopes that their cries are heard by those who can truly create effective gun control.
Similar to the Florida students who walked out of class to protest, hundreds of Baltimore students marched out of class today toward City Hall, chanting, "Guns down! Grades up!"
RIGHT NOW IN BALTIMORE: Students march toward City Hall asking for gun control. pic.twitter.com/kfB5oDPyP5— Kevin Rector (@RectorSun) March 6, 2018
The Baltimore Sun reports that schools such as Friends School of Baltimore, Baltimore City College, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Baltimore School for the Arts and the Roland Park Country School participated in the sizable protest.
"Students were willing to walk out, to let go of whatever test or project they had and put their energy towards the protection of their friends," said Cassius Comfort, a senior at Friends School. Comfort walked almost five miles toward the City Hall.
“Everyone is just so used to the violence and gun threats and children fearing for their lives,” said Elizabeth Sacktor, a sophomore at Baltimore School for the Arts. “I’m participating to remind people in power that this is an issue. Children should not fear for our lives while trying to get an education.”
The students approached Maryland lawmakers with a list of demands, including support of the "red flag law," which would allow judges to issue a temporary firearm surrender for gun owners who are deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others, as well as a ban on detachable magazines that can hold up to 10 rounds of ammunition. Further, the students are calling for social work and counseling “to prevent the culture of violence.”
“Something needs to change,” said 17-year-old Dunbar student Unique Chisholm, who wants a universal background check for gun owners and the minimum gun purchasing age raised to 21-years-old. “Guns just need to be stopped. People need to stop killing people. Period.”
“With respect to today’s protest, school police are working with city police to ensure that students who left our buildings are safe and do not impede traffic or cause potential danger for themselves or others,” said Baltimore schools CEO, Sonja Santelises in a statement. “Principals of schools whose students participated will continue working with their school communities to ensure future protests are both productive and safe.”
Santelises confirmed that the district encourages the students “to make themselves heard about an issue that affects them profoundly.”
A national march in D.C. is planned for later this month, and Mayor Catherine Pugh confirmed that Baltimore plans to donate approximately $100,000 towards a group of buses so that students can attend. Pugh and Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa joined the students in a 17-minute "lie-in" in honor of the Parkland students.
"America needs to hear the voices of the young people of Baltimore," said Pugh.