Students plan walk-outs and demonstrations in protest of gun violence Wednesday

Mar 13, 2018

Student-led protests against gun violence will be held throughout the U.S. and in the Rochester area on Wednesday.

At 10 a.m., students plan to walk out of school for 17 minutes of silence in remembrance of the 17 people who were gunned down in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida last month.

At World of Inquiry in Rochester, 300 ninth through twelfth graders are expected to take part in a march from their school to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

"The teachers are all on board,” said Jazmine Breedy, one of the student organizers. “They agree with what we're doing and most of them want to march with us. Some have to stay, but a lot are in support. And the parents agree with what we're doing. They think this has to be student-led so student voices will be heard."

Breedy said metal detectors and a strong school culture make her feel generally safe at school.  

Maya Waller, a ninth grader at World of Inquiry, agrees that her school is safe, but said the more shooting incidents that happen across the country, the more fear spreads. Waller wants to see an increase in background checks for gun purchases and a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Breedy said the main goal of tomorrow’s demonstration is to voice the message that her generation will not tolerate gun violence.

"I think we just need to stand up together as one and tell them that we're done with this. We can't continue having this happen to us."

At Hope Hall in Rochester, students will read the names of the 17 Florida shooting victims followed by a prayer for the victims’ families.  The students and staff will be asked to perform 17 acts of kindness on Wednesday.  Executive director, Sr. Diana Dolce says the second through 12th graders are enthusiastic about what's planned.

"Eighty-five percent of them live in poverty, but they are so ready to help anybody else out."

Hope Hall is sending donuts to members of the Gates police and fire departments and ambulance service to thank them for keeping their school safe. Sr. Dolce said some teachers offered to pay for the donuts as one of their acts of kindness.

Student organizers say at least a dozen Rochester area schools are participating in tomorrow's demonstrations, including Brighton, Fairport, Penfield, and Pittsford Sutherland, and East Ridge High Schools, as well as the Harley Shool, Mercy High School, Allendale Columbia, School of the Arts, School Without Walls, and Norman Howard School. 

Local students are also planning a March for Our Lives event in Washington Square Park on March 24.