Across the United States, thousands of students today put down their pens and picked up signs, banners, and loudspeakers as they walked out of school to protest gun violence.
The nationwide student walkouts come one month after 17 people were killed when a former student with an AR-15 opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
NPR reports that an estimated 2,850 schools were part of the student-organized walkouts, organized by the advocacy organization EMPOWER, representing between five and 10% of all high schools across the country.
"Everyone has their own individual beliefs, those are what the posters are for, is for people to express their voices and their opinions because they have a right to do that, of course," one student, Egzona Rexhepi, told NPR. "But overall, we all want some type of change. And that's why we're participating in the walkout."
The walkouts began on the East coast at 10 a.m., and continued across the country throughout the day. Students walked out of class for 17 minutes — with each minute representing one of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.
Some students gave speeches. Others lay silently on the ground outside of their schools in a display that has come to symbolize not just victims of gun violence, but also black youth killed by police.
Today’s student walkouts have decades of historical precedent, including student walkouts to protest racial segregation and apartheid in the United States and South Africa, and to protest the mistreatment of indigenous populations in Australia.
The next large mobilization against gun violence will take place on March 24 in Washington D.C., and hundreds of other cities across the country, in the “March for our Lives.”
Students rally in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2018 during a student walk out to protest gun violence.
Hundreds of students walk out of Midwood High School as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence, March 14, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
Students walk out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence, March 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. Organizers say nearly 3,000 walkouts are set in the biggest demonstration yet.
Whitmer students walk out of school to their football stadium and stood in the shape of a heart in support and remembrance of the students who went through and lost their lives in the Parkland shooting pic.twitter.com/NpECkP8yKj— WTOL 11 (@WTOL11Toledo) March 14, 2018
Every student at this walkout suddenly lay down and now their parents are watching and taking photos of this and everyone is totally silent. pic.twitter.com/aZNe66uUD4— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) March 14, 2018
Hundreds of students stand in silence for 17 minutes outside Germantown Friends School.— Dray Clark (@DrayClarkTV) March 14, 2018
Students are participating in the Nat’l School Walkout & demanding action on gun safety. @NBCPhiladelphiapic.twitter.com/RjmzO4OI9d
Some of the students from Franklin High School where a 17 minute walkout took place at start of 4th period. Students back in classroom. Organizers say this was to remember #ParklandShooting victims. Separate protest on gun laws is after school pic.twitter.com/MjBenBj8Wq— Robert Lang WBAL (@Reporterroblang) March 14, 2018