Across Indianapolis, students walked out of school for 17 minutes Wednesday, joining a national movement to mark last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed.
Students as young as middle schoolers joined the nationwide movement to raise awareness of gun violence, participating in protests that included school walkouts, silent lie-ins, and readings of the names of students killed in Parkland.
At Northwest High School in Indianapolis Public Schools, hundreds of students walked out of school wearing red in a student-led protest. Some student organizers said they have lived with the prospect of a school shooting since they were very young, and they want school to feel safe for their younger siblings.
Sophomore Zhy’yon Hoover said she was in elementary school when the shooting in Newtown happened, and she is frustrated that lawmakers have not done more to stop shootings.
“It just keeps happening,” she said. “It keeps happening over and over. People need to start realizing that there needs to be change.”
Tyree Smith, a senior, said he felt safe at Northwest. But he is afraid for his younger siblings. “If there’s somebody going in a little elementary school or preschool shooting up them little kids, I’m worried about my little siblings,” he said.
Abiodun Akinseye, a senior, said the goal of the protest is to bring safety back to schools.
“School is supposed to be the safest place a student can come,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem that way anymore. I feel like that’s such a huge problem, and it seems like not many people want to talk about that.”
While many Central Indiana districts, including Indianapolis Public Schools, allowed students to protest without punishment, others strongly discouraged the walkouts or arranged for alternative ways to memorialize the students who died in Parkland.
For a group of Indianapolis students dedicated to ending street violence, the day was one piece of a broader movement to increase gun control and reduce gun violence.
Here’s a look at walkouts and reactions across the city:
Arsenal Tech showing love and support!!! pic.twitter.com/Oyb9p0IfVQ— L. Bryant 3 (@Bryantll3) March 14, 2018
I'm not against a national conversation about gun violence in schools, but I am against my elementary students participating in the @MSDWT "walk-in" - You are forcing my Kingergartner and 1st grader to say yes or no. I don't want them discussing school shootings. #Enough— Jon Rodgers (@JonathanRodgers) March 12, 2018
Thank you @msdwt for providing thoughtful guidelines to parents and students who want to be part of the #NationalSchoolWalkout Wednesday morning. I appreciate knowing that my son and other students have the opportunity to participate safely if they choose. @MomsDemand #ENOUGH— Amy Lynch (@mostlymidwestrn) March 12, 2018
#NationalSchoolWalkout my school is marking me truant and is pushing for us not to walk out but I’m making orange ribbons and carrying on anyway. a truancy is not worse than the well-being of my classmates and i. Really wish i had the schools support, though.— rhiannon ◟̽◞̽ (@antiRhiannon) March 14, 2018
Lol my parents won't give me permission to do the #WalkOut. Gotta love die hearted republican parents .— mckenzie lee ✨ (@ml_crawhendry) March 10, 2018
If u are participating in todays #walkout & 100% believe in the reason behind it, go grab a fellow student that you’ve never met, someone who’s different & walk with them, get to know them today while u walk. Put down the Snapchat & create these new relationships! It will go far!— Matt Overton (@MattOverton_LS) March 14, 2018
Hundreds of #myIPS students are joining in solidarity with survivors of the mass shooting that occurred one month ago at…
Students from Center For Inquiry school 2 have begun their walkout and march in downtown Indianapolis pic.twitter.com/CEl6LQvfS5— Justin L. Mack (@justinlmack) March 14, 2018