East Side students join nationwide walkouts against gun violence

Marjorie Otto/Review • Participating in nation-wide walkouts to protest gun violence, hundreds of students walked out of Harding High School March 14. Students left at 10 a.m. and stayed outside for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Marjorie Otto/Review • Harding students were joined by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter during a March 14 walkout. Students and Carter talked about what they want to see change in relation to gun violence and school shootings.

Hundreds of students walked out of Harding High School at 10 a.m. on March 14 to protest gun violence in schools, in solidarity with students at schools across the state and nation.

The walkouts marked one month since 17 students were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The students were joined by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard.

The walkout at Harding was organized by the school student group Dare 2 Be Real. Students stood on the sidewalk around the school and chanted for 17 minutes, one minute each for the 17 people who died in the Parkland shooting.

Juniors Peter Vang and Missy Xiong said they joined the walkout because they felt they needed to stand up up for themselves and make sure their voices were heard. 

“I felt really sad,” said Xiong of hearing about the Parkland shooting. She said it made her realize that “we should appreciate what we have, appreciate life.”

Vang and Xiong said their hope is simple: they want school shootings to stop.

As the event wrapped up, many of the student leaders gathered around Carter to talk about the event and what they hope will come from it, including an increase in the age to purchase weapons.

Many of the students mentioned they have younger siblings who will soon attend the high school and said they want to feel like they will be safe. They said they’re tired of shootings being the norm.

Some students said they don’t think the school is secure enough and that it would be too easy for someone to walk in without being stopped.

Others who spoke to Carter said they felt frustrated because it seemed like people disregarded them and their opinions because they are kids.

Carter said he disagreed, pointing to the news helicopters overhead and the cameras surrounding the them.

“They’re listening,” he said.


East Side participation

Johnson High School, in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood on the East Side, had about 400 students participate in the walkout, according to Johnson Principal Micheal Thompson.

He said senior student leaders organized the walkout. Students left the building at 10 a.m., walked down Arcade Street, gathering at the intersection of Arcade and Maryland Avenue, and then walked back to the school along Walsh Street. 

Thompson said he was proud of the students and said he thinks an event like this is important for students to see how they are a part of a larger picture. He said the students were responsible and followed the parameters established by the district.

“They were loud but sensible,” he said.


– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto

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