Hundreds of Long Island high school and college students walked out of class Wednesday in solidarity with a nationwide protest against gun violence in response to the Parkland, Florida high school massacre.
Students gathered on snow-covered football fields for a 17-minute-long rally—one minute for each victim killed—at 10 a.m., the time the Parkland shooter opened fire a month ago to the day.
“We want change,” Bay Shore High School students chanted while school officials and Suffolk County police officers milled around. They also chanted “no more guns,” “17 lives,” and “let us live!”
A counter protester with a mega phone yelled: “You guys are wasting your time!” The students continued rallying undeterred.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was charged with allegedly using an AR-15 rifle to kill students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. The massacre reignited the national debate over gun control. President Donald Trump proposed arming teachers in response.
Students also walked out of class at Hofstra University, John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, Suffolk County Community College, Great Neck South High School, Commack High School and Herricks High School, among others. Additional March For Our Lives rallies were planned throughout the day in Patchogue, Long Beach, Stony Brook, Port Jefferson, Huntington, Farmingdale, Old Westbury, Glen Cove and Port Washington.
“The victims who died that day were just like the students and staff at Great Neck South,” said Bonnie Charles, a senior at the school. “They had plans for college, they had dreams, and they had futures…. By participating in the #Enough National Walkout, we are calling out our nation’s lawmakers to let them know that unless they adopt stricter gun legislation, we will vote them out.”
Joseph VanderWaag, an SCCC student who helped organize a walkout on the Ammerman campus, echoed the sentiment.
“This isn’t just an issue that is affecting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, or Columbine High School in Colorado,” he said. “This is an issue that affects everyone!”