The National School Walkout will get underway at 10 a.m. in each local time zone on Friday, April 20. The walkout’s date was chosen because it marks the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Lane Murdock, a sophomore at Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Connecticut, organized the rally. Ridgefield High School is roughly 21 miles northeast of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza murdered 26 individuals at this school on December 14, 2012.
“On Friday, April 20th we want students to attend school and then promptly WALK-OUT at 10:00 am. Sit outside your schools and peacefully protest. Make some noise. Voice your thoughts. We are students, we are victims, we are change,” tweeted walkout organizers.
Columbine High School Principal Scott Christy used social media to urge students across the country to, rather than protest, honor victims of gun violence.
“This year April 20 is garnering more attention that usual in the national and statewide media,” tweeted Christy.
“We wanted to reach out to students, school leaders and school communities to share what our tradition has been and invite you to join us. We know another walkout has been promoted by various groups, however, in Jeffco the month of April has long been a time to respectfully remember our loss, and also support the efforts to make our communities a better place. Please consider planning service projects, an activity that will somehow build up your school, or perhaps pre-Day Without Hate event on April 20, as opposed to a walkout. The Columbine survivors and Columbine community has supported our efforts as a way to hope and remember, and we encourage you to as well.”
Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 semi-automatic style rifle to murder 17 people and injure another 15 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14. A month after the massacre, on March 14, students conducted a 17-minute walkout to recognize those slayed by Cruz. Friday’s event will occur from 10 a.m. until the end of the school day.
“This is a problem that needs to be addressed longer than 17 minutes,” said Murdock.
“As a student who can’t vote, you don’t have a lot of power. But what you have that’s powerful is your voice, your thoughts, but also your attendance. And leaving for longer than 17 minutes, leaving and breaking up that schedule that all American students have every day is how you get people to pay attention.”
In response to public backlash, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hertz, Best Western Hotels and Resorts, MetLife and more than a dozen other major companies severed ties with the NRA. Furthermore, on February 28, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it discontinued offering assault-style rifles like the one employed by Cruz. The mammoth sports retailer also proclaimed that it would no longer sell firearms to anyone below the age of 21.
“We deeply believe that this country’s most precious gift is our children. They are our future. We must keep them safe,” tweeted Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The same day that Dick’s Sporting Goods restructured its inventory and sales policies, the Florida House Appropriations Committee approved a $67 million that will allow 10 trained teachers to carry a firearm in every school across the state. If selected following an extensive vetting process, educators who partake in the “school marshal” program will receive a one-time stipend of $500.
Judge Kim Theresa Mollica ordered Cruz to be held without bond on 17 counts of premeditated murder the day after the slaughter. Last week, Cruz said in Broward Circuit Court that he wants to donate his $800,000 inheritance to the families of the 17 people he killed on February 14. The 19-year-old Cruz is scheduled to receive the money from his late mother’s life insurance policy when he turns 22. Florida prosecutors will seek to execute Cruz.