Virginia Students Participate in National Walkout
Across Virginia, students participated in walkouts Wednesday to remember the victims of the Parkland High School shooting.
Hundreds gathered in the baseball field outside Freeman High School in Henrico County. They stood in the cold for seventeen minutes. At the start of each minute, one victim’s name and story was read outloud.
After a group of student organizers spoke to the press.
“There are students across the nation that universally agree that changes need to be made and that’s what we’re fighting for. And we’re not going to stop until people make real changes,” said senior Maxwell Nardi.“We’re together in this, we all have been through active shooter drills we all have the pain and understanding of the victims in Parkland and the victims across the nation and how this has gone down, and we’re sick of it.”
Nardi blamed lawmakers for failing to act on gun control, school safety and mental health reform. But also said he recognized there are a number of issues his fellow students care about.
“But universally we want to make sure we’re fixing the flawed and loophole filled problems specifically in the state of Virginia, but also across the nation,” Nardi said.
The walkouts weren’t just at high school and middle schools, but also universities.
At the University of Virginia more than a thousand students, faculty and community members gathered at the foot of the Rotunda. After walking out of classes a group of 20 students read a list of demands — ban guns on college campuses, require background checks on all gun purchases, ban high-capacity magazines, and allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the health effects of gun violence.
After each, the crowd chanted in unison, “Enough is enough.”
The keynote was given by Dr. A.D. Carson, the school’s first professor of hip hop in its music department. Carson read a poem written in the first person from the perspective of a young person in an inner city. His death, he said, won’t make front page news.
“Because I lived and died in Chicago and since I’m not from Sandy Hook, Boston, any monumental place of gathering, my home is always like a war zone, because I didn’t visit the White House last week,” Carson read. “I’m not a pretty little girl with such potential. You won’t hear of me or my death. I die daily and never cross your mind.”
The group then read the names aloud of each of the Parkland school victims, following each with, “We will remember.” To the west, the chapel bell rang 17 times for each of the victims, and students went back to classes.
Speaking on WRVA’s Ask the Governor, Democrat Ralph Northam addressed the student walkouts, saying he’s a firm believer if the freedom of speech.
“You know It’s unfortunate that our youth should have to take action like this, that they should have to get up out of their classrooms and walk out to get the attention of policymakers like myself,” said Northam.
Northam supported several gun control measures that all failed in this year’s General Assembly. Republicans did form a special commission on school safety. That group has been tasked with looking at emergency preparedness, mental health resources, and security infrastructure.
Students are already planning their next event. Hundreds are expected at the state capitol Saturday March 24th for a rally organized by Richmond Public Schools.