On Tuesday, over 200 students staged a walkout at Riverview Gardens High School in Missouri in protest of gun violence.
Students carried signs reading, “Is your semi-automatic worth my life?” and “Teachers don’t need guns!” according to St. Louis Today.
The protest, and others like it, have been taking place across the country after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The 19-year-old gunman, a previous student who shot and killed 17 people at the school, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The aftermath of the Florida tragedy opened a conversation amongst students and their schools, bringing to life a live debate hosted on CNN where students and teachers who survived the shooting were able to have an open dialogue with Sen. Marco Rubio and a spokesman from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Recently, President Donald Trump urged that it's necessary to arm teachers as a protective measure.
“There’s no reason a 19-year-old boy should’ve been able to purchase an AR-15,” Kenidra Woods, 17, Riverview Gardens junior, told St. Louis Today.
Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again - a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2018
In efforts to push back against the U.S. government's stance on gun laws, the student protestors not only held a walkout but also expressed a need for greater security within their school. Feeling unsafe amongst recent events, the students requested additional security measures, such as metal detectors.
However, students discovered upon trying to re-enter the school that they would not be allowed to come back to their classes and finish the school day. Students were also told they would not be able to ride school busses home due to their participation, reports St. Louis Today. Other students were warned that if they exited the school for the protest, they would face suspension.
Parents received similar messages from school officials. One parent, Tracey Cross, reported receiving an automated voice message warning parents that if their children were to be found protesting, they would face disciplinary consequences.
“We should be able to have a peaceful protest without getting in trouble,” Destiney Young, a freshman at the school, told St. Louis Today.
Leata Price-Land, a spokesperson for the district, said the district finds no issue with students wanting to protest, adding that the district requested that students remain on campus for safety reasons. However, some moved outside of school grounds.
“We respect the rights of students to engage in free speech activities, and we appreciate that the majority of the students who participated in the activities today remained on campus and they did return to class peacefully,” Price-Land told Patch. “We just wanted them to be safe on campus.”
Many online have responded to the refusal to allow students to re-enter the school.
Whoever initially made the decision that the kids would not be allowed back in the buildings or to ride their school buses home needs to have their heads examined.
Riverview Gardens High Students Stage Walkout, Call For Gun Laws https://t.co/8aAvyzYVqY— Moxie Passion (@moxiepassion) February 27, 2018
And the students refuse to be silenced.
Riverview Gardens junior Kenidra Woods calls for background checks for gun sales, metal detectors in school to keep students safe from guns pic.twitter.com/EticjNixUB— Kristen Taketa (@Kristen_Taketa) February 27, 2018