Students walk out to protest gun violence

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“We will not be silent. Stop gun violence.”

That was the chant as 1,300 students from Druid Hills High School flowed out the doors and onto the school’s front parking lot.

They joined students across DeKalb County and nationwide in leaving class at 10 a.m. March 14—the one-month anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 students and staff members.

Throughout DeKalb, students found ways to honor the memory of those lost to gun violence and express their desire for change. Students at Columbia High School chanted “Books up, guns down.” A group of Tucker High School students spent the entire school day in silence.

Henderson Mill Elementary students and staff joined hands and linked arms around the outside of the school as an expression of community. A group of Decatur High School students walked out, with some joining further protests at a rally outside the Georgia State Capitol building.

Lisa Medford, 17, a senior at Druid Hills, organized the school’s walkout with speakers such as local author Melissa Fay Green.

“This movement is the first roar America has heard from your generation,” Green told students in her speech. “I’m pretty sure America did not expect to hear from you already. Not while you’re still in high school. Not on public policy.”

The event was covered by the national media, with Medford being interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning, America.

At the close of the event, Druid Hills principal Mark Joyner encouraged teachers to engage students who wanted to discuss the walkout. He also encouraged students, who will be old enough to vote in November, to do so at the school during fifth period.

According to Medford and school officials, every Druid Hills student took part in the walkout.

“When a tragedy like the one at Stoneman Douglas High School occurs, we are all forced to recognize our own mortality,” Medford said in her speech at the closing of the protest, which lasted more than 30 minutes. “Do not forget how this feel. Do not forget your anger, your frustration, your desire for change.”

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