Several area schools are planning walkouts to protest gun violence on Wednesday, the one-month anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.
In Manatee County, walkouts are planned at both State College of Florida and New College of Florida, according to EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, website. There are more than 2,500 walkouts planned on the site.
The actionnetwork.org page also shows a walkout planned at Manatee High School, along with a moment of silence in honor of the victims.
Walkouts aim to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods,” according to the event pages.
The walkout will last 17 minutes, honoring the 17 people killed. EMPOWER is calling for the walkouts to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Manatee County schools are allowing students to participate in the walkouts, according to Mike Barber, director of communications for the School District of Manatee County. School officials expect it to primarily affect high schools.
“Students can go to the courtyard or another designated area inside the campus,” Barber added.
For some schools around the country, however, it’s a little more complicated.
Students have the right to free speech, but they are required by law to attend class; and schools can determine punishments for absences and other infractions, according to McClatchy reports, citing the ACLU.
There are also several walkouts planned for schools in Sarasota County on the EMPOWER website, including Sarasota High School and Riverview High School.
In February, Manatee School for the Arts held a walkout during their scheduled “brain break” to make their voices heard in the ongoing gun violence debate. More than 300 people gathered outside the school as students gave emotional speeches. The event was also planned through the actionnetwork.org website.
There are also two March for Our Lives protests planned in Bradenton for March 24; one at The Learning Experience Lakewood Ranch, 11425 Arbor Green Trail at 10:30 a.m. and another on the Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton at noon. The March for Our Lives campaign stems from a march in Washington, D.C., organized by survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to pressure Congress to pass stricter gun laws.