Urban students walk out to protest gun violence

Vivien Manning , Features Editor

On a rainy Wednesday morning, students and teachers from the Urban School joined schools across the nation as they walked out of class and gathered in the Panhandle to stand in solidarity with victims of gun violence and in support of school safety. The walkout was 17 minutes long in remembrance of the 17 students and teachers killed in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a month prior; senior leaders read aloud the names and descriptions of the 17 victims, describing athletes, honor students, and band players. Inside of the Urban School, teachers facilitated conversations with the students who opted not to participate in the walkout.

After the walkout, most students and teachers returned to class, while a group of around 50 Urban students chose to march to San Francisco City Hall to participate in a rally with other San Francisco schools. While the 17 minute walkout was school sanctioned, the students who chose to march to City Hall received an unexcused absence.

The rain launched into a full downpour, drenching students. Bedraggled students huddled under communal umbrellas as they marched to City Hall, where they joined the rally of students from schools across San Francisco. The rally began by reading aloud the names of the 17 killed in Florida, but speakers also called attention to the black and brown children who are terrorized by gun violence daily. Speakers sought to draw focus to the children of color who are daily victims of gun violence, but who are not discussed or acknowledged as much in the media. Speakers included San Francisco board of supervisors members Sandra Lee Fewer and Malia Cohen as well as a member from United Playaz, “a violence prevention and youth development organization” based in San Francisco. They applauded youth empowerment and urged students to continue to be engaged politically. Student speakers read poems, performed spoken word poetry, and gave speeches admonishing politicians’ inaction on gun control; all speakers emphasized that this movement should have room for everyone of all backgrounds and identities.The passion and emotion was palpable: students spoke about wanting to hear school bells not gunshots, and not having to worry about where to hide if an armed shooter comes into their school. Students delivered messages of youth empowerment and leadership; the main idea being that the government has failed them, and it’s time for students to take charge and make change.

The rain lifted as hundreds of students then marched down Market Street accompanied by police escorts. Chants such as “The NRA has got to go!”, “Students united will never be divided!” and “No more silence, end gun violence!” dominated the streets, mixed in with supportive honks and cheers from passersby. The march ultimately concluded in Ghirardelli Square, with several student speakers echoing messages of youth empowerment and pledging to continue the fight against gun violence: the fight for their lives. Marches are also planned for March 24 and April 20. For more information, visit https://marchforourlives.com/.