Students throughout California walked out of classes Wednesday in solidarity with others nationwide protesting gun violence a month after 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Here are scenes from the walkouts:
In misty weather, Janice Lantz stood outside of Santana High School in a San Diego suburb clutching a sign that said “Enough, Act Now! Save Our Kids” and remembered the fear she felt in 2001 when a 15-year-old Santana student opened fire with his father’s rifle, killing two students and wounding 13 others.
Lantz’s son was at an elementary school a block away and on lockdown.
“It’s the most awful thing you could ever hear as a parent,” said Lantz, as passing cars honked in support of her sign.
Inside the school, about 150 students walked out of their classrooms and huddled in an interior courtyard. Security guards and school officials kept out news media. Gabriel Mendoza, 16, a junior, said afterward that it was important to join and observe the 17 minutes of silence after the names of the 17 victims were read.
He said he sometimes feels scared about safety at the school and he wants Washington to hear the message of students.
“We want there to be more support to restrict guns,” he said.
Thousands of students from colleges to elementary schools in the San Diego area participated in the national protest. Some released doves and others lay on the ground under signs, including one that read, “One child is worth more than all the guns on earth.”
Students at Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School in Los Angeles stood outside as the names of the victims of the Parkland massacre were read over a loud speaker.
Some students hugged each other while others held up signs demanding gun reform.
Eighth-grader Kristian Crisolo wanted to pay his respects to the victims in Florida.
“I feel angry because schools are not protecting us as much anymore,” Crisolo said. “Last year and this year, there were more school shootings than there were a few years ago.”
When asked if he feels safe at school, Crisolo surveyed the display of names and flowers on the school’s field meant to honor the Florida victims.
“After how many kids died, I’m not sure anymore,” he said.
Teenagers in coats and jackets filed out of C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento in chilly, overcast weather.
They filled the parking lot in front of the school and lined the campus’ front steps, where 17 empty desks were placed to symbolize those killed in Parkland.
Some stood with their heads bowed.
“Today we stand in solidarity with the students of Parkland,” McClatchy junior Maya Steinhart told her fellow students after the silent tribute. “Our silence today speaks louder than any words ever can.”
Then, the 17-year-old told other students to take out their phones and pre-register to vote.
Steinhart and other speakers called for elected officials to ban assault weapons to make schools safer.
Several state officials also attended the walkout, which took place within a few miles of the Capitol building. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a McClatchy graduate, praised the students’ activism.
The school’s principal and the Sacramento police chief also spoke in support of the students.
More than 400 San Francisco high school students left morning classes to join a rally outside City Hall to demand more gun control laws and an end to school shootings.
Many raised fists to the air and stood in silence while the names of Parkland victims were read through a megaphone.
Some held signs that said “Enough is enough,” and they chanted: ‘Hey hey, ho ho. The NRA has got to go.”
People in passing buses applauded the students as they marched from City Hall through downtown streets.
High school junior Eric Banach, 17, said school shootings have become frighteningly common and Washington needs to do something to stop them.
“It can happen anywhere. It has happened across the United States. What’s stopping it from happening here?” said Banach, a student at George Washington High School. “Protect our lives, not gun laws.”
Students said they felt a sense of power in their voices and were grateful to Parkland survivors for turning their tragedy into a social movement.
“I have a lot of faith in our generation. I believe we can change our world and start a revolution,” said Lucy Stoll, 15, a sophomore from the Drew School in San Francisco, who joined the rally with a group of friends. “Nobody needs to have an assault rifle. We need to ban weapons of war.”
Watson reported from San Diego. Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles, Sophia Bollag in Sacramento and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco also contributed to this reported.