JACKSON HEIGHTS — These high school students are marching for their lives.
Students at the Renaissance Charter school in New York took part in a National School Walk Out, in solidarity with the survivors of the Parkland shooting in Florida, when 17 people were killed by a former student gunman.
“Never forget these victims and that we will always be there to stand with anybody who shall suffer the same, but we shall also make sure that steps are taken to prevent these from happening again,” said Andres Aguirre.
As early as 9 am, student leaders at this charter school have been getting their protest signs ready for the 17-minute school walkout, in honor of the 17 people who were killed in the Parkland massacre.
For trans student Nicolas Cortez, his interest in gun reform activism started right after the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.
“We are sick and tired of it, we understand what is happening, we understand that we just need to change something, and we know our power, we know our position and we know that politician know that we can vote this year and a lot of us are going to vote next year,” said Cortez.
For many of these students, this will be their first ever experience in activism.
“Our power is in our unity and willpower to push for change, I think all of us stepping out of school in unity and sending the same message that there’s no amount of money that a child’s life is worth, sends our message that we are here for change,” said student leader Loren Francione.
Filipino-American teachers here say they allowed these students to exercise their First Amendment rights as a teaching moment.
“Talagang pinaglalaban nila ang kanilang karapatan, hindi yong basta-basta sunod-sunod na lang, /cut/ itong mga batang ito, the future voters, nagsasalita na sila, at nakikita ko gumagalaw, may nangyayari, nakikita natin sa florida yan,” said math teacher Ram Buena.
“It’s amazing, it sends chills down my spine to know that they’re this motivated and they have a reason to do this, unfortunate and as tragic as it is, maybe with this young generation, there will be change,” said
Students here say these school walkouts will continue until common sense gun reform is passed in the US Congress.
They are also organizing a bigger protest action on the March 24th “March for Life” nationwide student mobilization.