At Saturday’s March for Our Lives, survivors of last month’s Parkland, Fla., school shooting will join an expected half a million people to protest against gun violence and call for more restrictive gun laws. The student-led march will coincide with 800 coordinating events, including at least one in every U.S. state and on six continents.
This collection of photos, videos, and social media posts examines how the march is playing out in Washington and across the globe. It includes on-the-ground views of the action from the students, educators, and others in attendance, and reaction from those following along.
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MADISON – A month ago Assembly Democrats attempted to pass Assembly Bill 65, a bill introduced by State Representative Terese Berceau (D-Madison) requiring universal background checks on firearm purchases in Wisconsin. Democratic efforts then were stymied by Assembly Republicans who, refusing to vote on background checks for gun purchases, instead pulled several procedural stunts, and ultimately gutted Democrats’ universal background check proposal.
Today, Assembly Republicans amended Assembly Bill 1031 with an amendment relating to firearm background checks that, remarkably, did nothing to address the gun show loophole or private gun sales. State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) re-released the following statement concerning Republicans’ continued refusal to adopt universal background checksin Wisconsin:
“Republicans should have to justify their actions today, and they should have to answer to every child who is afraid to go to school, every teacher who is afraid to go to work, and every family who has been affected by gun violence due to Republican inaction.
I stood with high school students from our community in the Capitol just last week while they begged Wisconsin lawmakers to take action on gun violence. And yet, based on Republicans’ theatrics this afternoon, it’s clear our kids’ pleas didn’t just fall on deaf ears, they fell on ears that just don’t give a damn
Inaction is complicity. It’s not a matter of if the next shooting is going to occur, it’s when, and it could happen in our watch in Wisconsin if Republicans don’t start acting like the adults our kids expect us to be.”
Melissa Sargent is a State Representative in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the 48th Assembly District, which covers the east and north sides of the city of Madison and the village of Maple Bluff.
Following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, courageous and inspiring students around the country are demanding action, refusing to believe that we can do nothing to stem America’s gun violence epidemic. In stark contrast, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has responded with plans to chair a new task force on school safety that will, among other things, consider the wholly nonresponsive goal of repealing Obama-era discipline guidance.
The departments of Justice and Education, whose civil rights units we had the privilege to lead during the Obama administration, crafted the 2014 guidance documents that are now under attack. Intended to help schools serve students more effectively, the guidance explains long-standing federal law prohibiting racial discrimination in school discipline and concretely outlines how schools can satisfy this law while maintaining classroom peace. The guidance makes clear to school administrators and communities what the law is and how to apply it to treat all students fairly. In addition, the guidance provides practical resources to reduce disparities in exclusionary discipline and improve school climate, including a 50-state compendium of laws related to school discipline. A best practices document highlights alternatives to out-of-school disciplinary techniques that work to maintain classroom peace. The goal was simply to ensure that all children have a chance to learn and thrive.
The reality is, many American schools have a problem: separate and unequal discipline practices that discriminate on the basis of race. We know from careful investigations we oversaw at the departments of Justice and Education that children of color and those with disabilities often receive harsher disciplinary interventions than their white and nondisabled counterparts—for the same offenses. In one investigation, school staff could not identify nondiscriminatory reasons for racially different disciplinary treatment of students in more than a quarter of the files investigated…
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Announces primary membership, first meeting and other key details
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced new details on the Federal Commission on School Safety the President appointed her to chair. The Commission has been charged with quickly providing meaningful and actionable recommendations to keep students safe at school. Accordingly, the Commission will be comprised of department heads whose agencies have jurisdiction over key school safety issues: Secretary DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
The first organizational meeting will be Wednesday, March 28 in Washington, D.C. to discuss the scope of the Commission’s work, timeline, locations for meetings and topics for field hearings.
Input from and meetings with students, parents, teachers, school safety personnel, administrators, law enforcement officials, mental health professionals, school counselors, security professionals and other related stakeholders will be critical to the Commission’s work.
Additional details on stakeholder engagement both in Washington and across the country will follow the meeting on March 28.
“Over the last several weeks, I have held meetings with parents and non-profit organizations, who in the wake of tragedy, have leapt into action and have focused on finding solutions to school violence,” said Secretary DeVos. “The Commission’s task will be to hear their ideas and the ideas of anyone who is focused on finding solutions to bolster school safety across the country. We want to highlight what’s working so that every school has access to solutions that will keep students and teachers safe.”
Attorney General Sessions had this to say about the Federal Commission on School Safety’s work, “No child should have to be afraid to go to school. That’s why President Trump has taken action to strengthen law enforcement and to protect law-abiding people from the threat of gun violence. Since last month’s tragic shooting in Parkland, the Department of Justice has taken new steps to put more law enforcement officers in schools, ban bump stocks, get better information to our background check systems, and aggressively prosecute those who lie on a background check. I am confident that, by bringing together teachers, parents, and law enforcement officers, the School Safety Commission will inform the next steps we will take to give students safety and peace of mind.”
Secretary Azar added, “It is a core responsibility of government to keep our communities, and especially our schools, safe from all forms of violence. We at HHS look forward to contributing to the work of the Commission, especially when it comes to identifying young Americans struggling with serious emotional disturbance or serious mental illness and helping them find treatment that enables them to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.”
Secretary Nielsen said, “No child should have to worry about their safety when in school. The Department’s top priority is to keep the American people safe. I look forward to working with other Commission members to advance school security, including by promoting education and community awareness of school threats, capacity building and training to guard against them, and early warning mechanisms to help intervene before threats become tragedies.”
Members of the public with recommendations on how to increase school safety can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An estimated several hundred thousand protesters gathered in Washington DC and in cities across the United States on Saturday to push for additional gun control legislation. At the demonstration in the nation’s capitol, a dozen celebrities were in attendance and several — Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato — took the main stage to perform.
So ready to March today! Landed in DC w North & Kanye. We stand in solidarity with the survivors of gun violence & students who are calling for action on common sense gun safety laws at #MarchForOurLives around the country @AMarch4OurLives@Everytown
I’ll always stand for open dialogue and action – it’s the only way to ensure bad history doesn’t repeat itself. When it comes to protecting our children, all bets are off and the responsibility lies with us adults and lawmakers to listen and do. Very strong day. #MarchForOurLivespic.twitter.com/4gJ0QKdMYw
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands marched in the nation’s capital and across the world to commemorate those killed by gun violence and to demand more effective gun control legislation.
[/media-credit] Thousands of demonstrators participate in the “March for Our Lives” rally in D.C. on March 24 to demand stricter gun control.
The march, titled March for Our Lives, was led by teenagers and survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
To honor the 17 victims of the February shooting, one of the speakers read their names, “Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg …” He saved the name of one student, Nicholas Dworet, for last because Saturday would have been his 18th birthday.
The crowd chanted “Never again,” and “Everyday shootings are everyday problems.”
People from across the nation traveled to Washington in support of the cause. One of them was Brianna Richardson, who came from Newtown, Conn., the site of the deadliest public school shooting in America. In 2012, Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Richardson, whose father is the president of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, said the incident inspired her to become a nurse.
“I want to help people live happy healthy lives, so that one day we don’t have people who feel so sadly that they have to do these things,” she said. After the tragedy, Richardson began volunteering and pushing for change, as well.
Organizers estimate 800,000 people attended the march in Washington. Numerous celebrities, including Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson, Arianna Grande, George Clooney, Common and Demi Lovato joined the demonstration.
Students and survivors of the Parkland shooting joined with students across the nation and celebrities to share their testimonies on the main stage. There was also a six-minute moment of silence for the time it took to kill the 17 victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
One of the speakers on the main stage was the granddaughter of civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have a dream that enough is enough and that this should be a gun free world, period,” 9-year-old Yolanda Renee King said.
The crowd at the march was very emotional and many were teary-eyed at the remarks made by the speakers.
Amber Kelly, a teen mother, stood in the crowd with her son and expressed the worry she has for her son attending school.
Thousands of demonstrators participate in the “March for Our Lives” rally in D.C. on March 24 to demand stricter gun control.
“I’m more so scared for my son than myself,” Kelly said. “I don’t have the money to send my child to private school or homeschool him. How can I feel comfortable sending my son to school if I know there’s a possibility he could be shot?”
Helena Ristic, 24, is originally from Serbia. She said she decided to join the march to support the young people leading the event and to help end gun violence.
“I think this event shows that even though they’re kids, they can still make change,” Ristic said. “We all want gun violence to end.”
Lots of children were there with their parents. Many held signs and walked alongside their families.
Zachary Hill, 8, walked with his mom and two siblings and was excited he could be a part of this movement.
“I’m really happy we’re making a change for the future,” Hill said.
Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, urged people not to lose focus on the fact that most gun violence happens in black and Latino neighborhoods.
“It doesn’t only happen in schools,” Eastmond said. “It’s been happening in urban communities forever.”
Naomi Wadler, 11, also took to the main stage with a similar message, ensuring that people of color are not left out of the conversation.
“For far too long, these black girls and women have been just numbers,” said Wadler, a fifth grader who organized a walkout at her elementary school in Alexandria, Va., earlier this month.
“I urge everyone here and everyone who hears my voice to join me in telling the stories that aren’t told, to honor the girls, the women of color who are murdered at disproportionate rates in this nation.”
Shannon Douglas traveled four hours from Virginia Beach, Va., to participate in the demonstration.
“People aren’t taking this seriously,” Douglas said. “The Second Amendment was meant to protect your property and yourself. You don’t need an AK-47 or an SK to protect yourself. A simple handgun can do that.”
Douglas named two of the types of assault rifles protestors want banned. Supporters of gun control are also pushing for the ban of Bump stocks, an accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire much more rapidly.
“We call BS” was another popular chant and the topic of the signs held by the
Leaders of the march insisted that the event was a call to action, so volunteers lined the streets to register people to vote so they can elect government officials who will support stronger gun control and remove those who do not.
“Vote them out,” an activist pleaded to the crowd.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the March For Our Lives rally against gun violence in Washington, D.C. Organized by the survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it was a rally by students for students, but they were joined by thousands of educators who amplified their message — #neveragain. Hundreds of sister marches were held across the country and around the world.
Connecticut Educators March for Students
Busloads of educators came from all over the country to support the Florida students and students all over the country who demand to be heard. Taking part was a group of educators from Connecticut, where the shooting that killed 26 elementary school children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton is still raw.
“We have to do something with our gun laws, and we have to be vigilant. Talking and talking about it doesn’t change anything and we need to act. Our kids don’t feel safe,” said Mia Dimbo, a middle school math teacher from Bridgeport as she prepared to march to the site of the rally in Washington. “We need support for mental health. We don’t have enough resources for psychologists and counselors, and there’s so much trauma our kids are dealing with. They should not be afraid when coming to school. Today I march for our kids and our teachers…”
At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students walk daily past a quote painted high on an exterior wall: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
After 17 classmates and staff members died in Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school, some Stoneman Douglas students took that quote to heart. Less than than 24 hours after they were huddled in darkened classroom closets waiting for police to escort them to safety, they planted the seeds of a national movement that takes center stage Saturday at the March for Our Lives, when half a million people are expected to gather in Washington, D.C., to call for more restrictive gun laws.
Student organizers around the country have planned more than 800 coordinating events to coincide with the Washington march, including at least one in every state and on six continents. They estimate the events collectively could draw a million people.
But it remains to be seen if all the enthusiasm, and the coinciding media coverage, will lead to real policy change, especially on the federal level. There’s still a powerful gun lobby, the youth activists have ambitious policy demands that lawmakers have failed to pass many times before.
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Education leaders face challenges every day. We examine them through the lens of opportunity and strive to be proactive in solving problems before they materialize. We lead to serve, to build capacity, and to nurture hopes, dreams, and our children’s futures. Yet, we live in a time where we wake each day to a barrage of formidable responsibilities that politics and divisive behaviors only amplify. Among those are frequent acts of school violence. Many of us agonized—and continue to do so—following the Parkland school shooting, the student walkouts, and the tenuous struggle between encouraging civic activism and protecting our students’ safety. These gnaw at the essence of my being.
Faced with these challenges, we create opportunities; we shift paradigms. Despite our best efforts to make the best decisions, we will never be right in everyone’s eyes. That is the school leader’s reality. Opinions surrounding the March 14th student walkout were varied. They represented a wide range of values and beliefs. But our school district runs on consensus, so it was important to me to make the decision about the walkout together with my district colleagues. We wanted to remain true to our priorities: school safety and the education of our students.
On March 5th, we sent home a letter to the parents and guardians of the 846 students in our district’s one high school, since these were primarily the students who would be walking out. We made it clear that if students chose to exit the building, they would face consequences as defined by our district’s code of conduct. And these would be the same consequences they would face for leaving the building on any other school day…
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There is no evidence to support such an assertion. I know, because I’ve looked for it. I have spent close to a decade studying various aspects of American high school life, culminating last year in a book that questions whether high-security schools do students more harm than good. In Rhetoric, Embodiment, and the Ethos of Surveillance: Student Bodies in the American High School, I make a controversial suggestion: We need to lessen school security.