Joining schools across the country, Western students protested gun violence on Wednesday, March 14, by participating in a walkout from 10-10:17 a.m. Each minute marked each life taken in last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
On a damp gray morning in Bellingham, approximately 200 students, faculty and community members slowly filed into Red Square just after the carillon bells chimed to mark the hour.
With rain falling lightly, some students began laying down on the bricks and others symbolically outlined their still bodies in chalk. The crowd was silent.
“It was really emotional,” senior Emma Scalzo said after the protest. “I already knew I was going to be emotional. I was crying about this on my way to campus.”
Scalzo, a political science major, said she was impressed by how these nationwide walkouts were organized by high schoolers, most of whom aren’t even old enough to vote.
“It’s so influential,” she said. “The people in Congress defending gun rights have never been on the other side of an AR-15. They need to realize there are student’s lives at stake.”
A few impromptu speakers stood atop picnic tables and encouraged further activism, hammering in the point that action couldn’t stop here.
One speaker suggested students call the White House during the protest to demand change. Another reminded the crowd that their vote is their voice.
In front of Miller Hall, community members set up a booth where people could register to vote.
“I am just so happy I can be here and that I was asked to come, ” said Catherine Major, who was helping register people. “This issue- it’s close to my heart.
Fairhaven faculty member John Bower stood up to share the story of his wife and daughter who witnessed a shooting last year.
His daughter is now a member of the group Students For Action, created by students from four Bellingham area high schools to demand increased school safety. The group will be headed to Washington D.C. for the March for Our Lives Rally on March 24.
Around the country, students as young as 11 walked out on Wednesday. Some protests included repeating the names of the Parkland victims, and others involved releasing 17 balloons into the sky. Students in Washington D.C. took to the White House chanting, “We want change” and “never again,” according to reports from CNN.
Bower said some students are calling for walkouts on the 14th of each month until Congress acts on gun reform.