MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Students at schools across South Florida took part in “walk outs” on Wednesday to protest in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High last week in which 17 people were killed.
The walk outs symbolized their solidarity with the Stoneman Douglas High students and a demand for stricter gun control laws.
At Western High School in Davie, Chopper 4 was high above as the students walked out of the school en masse.
Students at Cooper City High School raised their voices as they marched on a track around their football field.
“I think I should feel safe when I come to school. Every time when I walk through those doors, I am terrified that I will never see my mother again,” said 9th grade student Emily Gonzalez.
“I am here because I think it’s disgusting that a 19-year-old could buy a military AR-15. When you are in school, you are supposed to feel safe instead of being in a cruel world,” said another student.
“We want change. We want something to change. They are not doing anything. That’s what we want. We want something different,” said 12th grade student Randol Henriquez.
As they protested, their parents held signs and stood on Stirling Road.
“I’m here because I want to support the kids,” said parent Olga Verdra.
“I think it’s fantastic that kids have a voice that they’re able to speak their heart. We need firmer gun controls,” said parent Tiffany Delit. ‘We are here to protect our kids and there must be some control. This terrorism is something that we need to deal with on a daily basis.”
At Cypress Bay High School there were tears and teens comforted each other in a nearby park where there was an emotional rally in which some survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting addressed the crowd.
Students said last week’s shooting changed things.
“You’re coming to school worried that something might happen to you,” said Oscar Gimenez.
Students held signs with pointed messages for lawmakers about the 17 dead, reading “students over guns.”
“I don’t understand how many lives need to be lost in order for some change to happen,” said Zurina Restrepo, a junior.
What started as a spontaneous resistance at some schools has sparked days of walk outs with students who came prepared for a planned exodus from the classroom.
“Come together and stay strong for the school, stay strong for the lives that were lost,” said Restrepo.
The walk out scenes were repeated throughout Broward as students walked out of classes at Coral Springs and J.P Taravella High Schools. Students from a total of 5 schools, including Coral Springs and Taravella marched to Stoneman Douglas High. For students at Taravella, that meant a 5-mile walk.
While many applaud their resolve, there’s a difference of opinion on whether the protests are disruptive.
Some school administrations are supporting the students’ right to protest while others say their actions are disruptive and go against school policy.
Miami-Dade Public Schools said of students on Tuesday,
“They must express their opinion respectfully, without disrupting the educational environment or violating school rules. Students who intend to express their ideas and opinions through demonstration must discuss time, place, duration and restrictions with a sponsor or administrator in advance.”
The Broward County Public School System said it encouraged peaceful and lawful protests and did not want any students violating the code of conduct.
Broward County Public Schools observed a moment of silence at 10:17 a.m. in memory of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims, survivors, families, and community.