by WorldTribune Staff, March 14, 2018
More than 3,000 walkouts at elementary, middle, high schools and some colleges across America were planned for March 14 to protest gun violence and call for new gun control legislation.
The event, held on the one month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, was organized by Women’s March Youth Empower.
The group urged students to call on lawmakers to institute an assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun sales.
Listed among the group’s partners on its website are the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Center for American Progress Action Fund, The Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Rock the Vote.
“Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence,” the group said on its website.
Students spoke out about why they chose to leave class.
Amanya Paige, 16, a junior at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, told The Washington Post that many schools in her district participated “to pay our respects and to show that the student voice matters and we won’t stand for the lack of gun control when it comes to school safety. This is where we spend the majority of our time and pray that we are safe every day.”
“Seventeen people are dead and I am no longer willing to listen to politicians who deem my life less valuable than a piece of metal,” Maya Homan, of Palo Alto, Calif., told The New York Times.
In Pensacola, Florida, Superintendent Malcolm Thomas ordered students to hold an in-school assembly instead, telling them they could discuss voting and mental health issues, but not guns, and saying that political banners would not be allowed.
“You can’t make political statements, it can’t be a pro-gun or anti-gun assembly,” Thomas told the Pensacola News-Journal.
Fox News reported that the American Civil Liberties Union issued advice for students, saying schools can’t legally punish them more harshly because of the political nature of their message. The ACLU of Georgia’s guidance letters to districts said “The United States Supreme Court has long held that students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’ ”
Cadie McNaboe, a 17-year-old senior at Philip Barbour High School in West Virginia, told Vox that the demonstration at her school was “not necessarily for gun control but for gun safety and anti-gun violence.”
“It is a challenge,” McNaboe said. “You want students to feel safe; you want students to feel at home. But in this area in particular, you can’t say, guns blazing, ‘We’re going to take away all guns.’ You’ve got to be very clear. I think with this movement, in particular, they’re doing a good job so far of saying we want to compromise but we don’t want to compromise our values necessarily.”
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that George Soros is not involved in funding the student walkouts.
Despite reports to the contrary, Soros spokesman Laura Silber said the leftist billionaire is not providing any funding to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, although he does support their efforts.
Silber said the Open Society Foundations have supported organizations working on gun violence prevention in the past, but don’t currently do so. She also said there’s no connection between the foundations and Women’s March Youth Empower.
The Media Research Center reported earlier this month that Soros and his Open Society Foundations contributed $246 million between 2010 and 2014 to 100 of the 544 groups listed as partners of the Women’s March.