• Students walk out as part of nationwide protest against gun violence

    By: Audrey Washington , Steve Gehlbach , Tony Thomas

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Students across metro Atlanta and around the country took part in a National School Walkout Wednesday in a call on Congress to pass tighter gun control laws.  

    The ENOUGH National School Walkout was held Wednesday morning, exactly one month after the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people and sent shock waves across the nation.

    The event started at 10 a.m. across every time zone and lasted 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims gunned down in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    [PHOTOS: National Walkout Day in metro Atlanta]

    Stoneman Douglas student Lauren Hogg wrote on Twitter Wednesday, "1 month. That is all it takes, 1 month for your life to change forever. 1 month to put you through things that you never thought you could get through. 1 month that has felt like years but also minutes. 1 month to change your perspective on life. 1 month without friends."

    Here is a look at how some schools dealt with the protests in metro Atlanta: 

    INMAN MIDDLE SCHOOL:

    Unlike some districts that threatened discipline for students walking out of class this morning, Atlanta Public Schools embraced the student’s actions Wednesday morning. 

    It included high schools, middle schools and even down to elementary. 

    One of the largest demonstrations was at Inman Middle School.

    Channel 2’s Steve Gehlbach was there as the students protested peacefully.

    "I feel like people these days, the politicians, they're acting like children so our generation has to be the generation that acts like adults and helps change the laws,” said 13-year-old Perla Rodriguez.

    Among the students was Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen, the superintendent for APS. 

    "I'm inspired by their leadership," Carstarphen said. "I'm hoping that in the end, they'll really make a difference and really change the conversation for the future."

    The students hope their effort won't go unnoticed by lawmakers.

    "And they say, 'Wow, look at those students. They want change, we should give it to them,’" said student Malori Switzer.

    BROOKWOOD HIGH SCHOOL: 

    Channel 2's Tony Thomas watched as students poured out of the front doors of Brookwood High School near Snellville on Wednesday. 

    Gwinnett County administrators had warned students they would face disciplinary consequences if they left their classes for the national walkout.

    Some of their parents didn't mind. Monica Wilcox’s two children were in the crowd. 

    “I made it very clear to both of them, ‘don't come out here just to be like, let's do this cool thing, but because you really believe in what the point of it is,’” Wilcox said.

    A few parents and even a couple of strangers stood on the sidewalk supporting the students, and even clapping at one point as it ended. 

    ”It's scary because it's something that involves us very directly but it's good that it's allowing us to talk about this directly,” student organizer Alex Backfisch said. 

    “I was surprised how emotional it made me just coming up to it,” parent Monica Wilcox said. “I expected it to be more of a protest and not like a memorial honoring of the lives that were lost. 

    The students gathered under what's known as the big tree holding up yellow cards. On each card was typed the name of a victim of the Parkland, Florida school shootings. 

    Countywide, administrators estimate some 3,900 students took part in walkouts at 45 schools.

    Gwinnett district leaders said students who left their classes were marked down for an unexcused absence.

    DUNWOODY HIGH SCHOOL: 

    Hundreds of students holding signs and chanting for gun reform walked out of Dunwoody High School Wednesday morning.

    Many of the students told Channel 2’s Audrey Washington that they want change so they could feel safer at school.

    Officials allowed the students to peacefully protest at the school. Teachers and security were there with the students. 

    Some students used bullhorns to shout things like, “all these guns have got to go,” and “we want to be safe.”

    “Yes, we can change the laws, and yes, we can change this country, and yes, we can change our future,” one student shouted. 

    Parents generally supported the walkout.

    “Gun violence prevention is really what this is all about,” said parent Sheila Levy. “I love that the kids are getting their voices and that their voices matter.”


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    Minute-by-minute coverage:  

    11:21 a.m.: During the walkout, the Fulton County Schools superintendent was monitoring events. 

    11:18 a.m.:

     

    11:15 a.m.: Channel 2's Tony Thomas at Brookwood high in Gwinnett County. 

    10:46 a.m.: “People our age don’t do enough to make a change,” said Caleb Torres, 18, a senior at Lakeside High School in DeKalb County. Said Ellen Gebreyohannes, 16, another student there: “I came from Africa to get an education ... and we shouldn’t be afraid to go to school. This morning is to show that our voices matter.” 

    10:37 a.m.: Sprayberry High School students yield to disciplinary warning to remain in school. 

    10:30 a.m.:

    Rep. John Lewis weighs in...

    10:30 a.m.: "To see our kids really want to say something about it, want to change it, want to shape the future for our country, it makes me proud as a superintendent," Dr. Meria Carstarphen said. 

    10:28 a.m.: All the students who participated in the national school walkout are back in the building now. 

    10:24 a.m.: Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida walk out of their classrooms to protest for stricter gun laws as part of  National Walkout Day. 

    10:22 a.m.: Students at Walton High School slowly starting to head back to class.

    10:16: a.m.: A group of about 40 Walton High School parents and community members hold a moment of silence. 

    10:15 a.m.: State lawmakers walk out of chambers to protest with students on national walkout protest for gun violence. 

    10:11 a.m.: One of the signs at Inman Middle School. 

    10:07 a.m.: Students in Dunwoody participate in student walkout. 

    10:06 a.m.: Students chant "stop gun violence" at Inman Middle School. 

    10:05 a.m.: Students pouring out of Brookwood High School. Administrators in Gwinnett said those who left class would face punishment. 

    10:02 a.m.: Superintendent joins students at Inman Middle School. 

    10:01 a.m.: Students at Walton High School are walking out to the football field. 

    9:55 a.m.: Student getting ready to walk out at Inman Middle School. 

    9:53 a.m.: Middle school students in Atlanta at Inman Middle School getting ready to walk out. 

    9:43 a.m.: NewsChopper 2 reporter Jason Durden says it's windy across metro Atlanta today, but they are still able to fly. 

    9:39 a.m.: NewsChopper 2 is heading out across metro Atlanta as students walk out as part of nationwide protest against gun violence. 

     
     

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