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'Hard to Feel Safe:' School Walkouts Wed. Are Part of Push for New Gun Laws

March 13, 2018, 6:00 PM by  Alan Stamm

Some Metro Detroit students and educators will join teens nationwide in a 17-minute school walkout Wednesday morning in tribute to 17 people killed in Parkland, Fla., on that date last month.

The 10 a.m. observance, part of a push for federal gun law reforms, comes a week before a March for Our Lives event March 24 in Washington, D.C. Both activities are coordinated by organizers of the Women's March Network, the group behind a massive demonstration in the capital a day after Donald Trump's inauguration.


Teachers and administrators are invited to gather with students on plazas, courtyards, sidewalks or athletic fields during Wednesday's short absence from classrooms.

"Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship," says a Youth Empower site, which says the gesture is intended "to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods."

The site adds:

Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.

Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.

Locally, Detroit students at Cass Tech High School are among those planning to leave their desks. "We need direct action," senior Tamera Middlebrooks tells Maureen Feighan of The Detroit News.

Amina Khalique of Cass: "With so many things going on, it's hard to feel safe." (Facebook photo)

The 18-year-old and schoolmate Amina Khalique, 17, are among organizers of a March for Our Lives rally on March 24 at Rivard Plaza, on RiverWalk at Atwater Street just east of downtown. "This is spreading a powerful message and it's student-led," Khalique tells the paper. 

Marches also are planned in Ferndale and Ann Arbor that day.

"No kid should have to go to school scared," says Lake Orion High senior Victoria D’Annunzio, quoted by The News in another article. "The protest [Wednesday] will show people that as students we need more safety for our education to ensure a protected learning environment."

Even younger students will show support Wednesday. Some Taylor parents plan to sign youngsters out of Quest Charter Academy, an elementary school.

"I've taught my children that one voice, one act, one sign can make a difference," Maria Cristini tells News reporter Shawn D. Lewis. She'll bring her 8-year-old daughter Isabella outside during the 17-minute observance. "These are our rights, and they are to be protected, practiced and cherished."

Principal Ralph Garza of Quest tells Lewis:

"We support any of our parents and students who want to participate. We understand the immense frustration everyone is feeling right now, as well as the need to speak out and encourage action."

Among some parents and grandparents, taking to the streets brings back memories of protests by earlier generations. This tweet is by a New York playwright and TV writer-producer: 

Related coverage today:

Districts Should Allow Student Walkouts Wednesday -- Howard Simon, Past Michigan ACLU Head

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