Teens on the Philadelphia National Walkout Protesting Gun Violence

by Tajnia Hussain

Students with protest signs at the Student Walkout
Students from Central High School. Photo by Darya Bershadskaya

Over the past month, our country has faced a wave of protests in support of more regulated gun control laws after a number of countless shootings all over the country. The youth has been leading these conversations, advocating for and demanding change.

Photo by Zirwa Malik
Photo by Zirwa Malik

On February 14, 2018, 17 innocent students lost their lives in a shooting at their school in Parkland, Florida.The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in addition to other students, have been taking action and encouraging their state representatives and senators to take legal action like extinguishing bump stocks, and banning assault rifles that are the weapon behind many shootings across America. They have also been advocating for increasing the age required to purchase a gun from 18 to 21.

On March 14, there was a national walkout day, which led millions of students to walk out of class for 17 minutes or more, to give a moment of silence for the 17 students who lost their lives. This was an action allowed by their Constitutional right to voice their opinions. The protest was organized by the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.The shooting was the 18th school shooting to occur so far in 2018.

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, was amongst the many cities that participated in the national walkout. Many schools such as Central, Franklin Learning Center, Science Leadership Academy CC and Beeber, Academy at Palumbo, Masterman, joined in organizing speakers at their school, at City Hall, and at the school district’s headquarters.

Below are some statements of students across the city and their view on gun control:

Zillah Elcin, Senior at Academy at Palumbo
“My main feelings over the gun control issue in the US is just an overwhelming sense of anger. Because being a student is too often a powerless position, and our voice is one that is overlooked, not by teachers, but by policymakers. Specifically, in Philadelphia, gun control is a different problem, one that affects our neighborhoods more than our schools. If I had to summarize my thoughts I would say this; suburbia, we will stand with you when your schools are shot up, but will you stand with us when our communities blaze in gunfire?”

Kaamil Jones, Senior at Science Leadership Academy Center City
“I’m hopeful. I think our generation is tired of it. We’ve seen it all of our lives. They tell us to shut up, but we still keep talking. We’re not afraid to call you out on the bad things that you do. We’re powerful: We’ve already seen all these companies drop the NRA. And we’re all willing to work to make a difference.”(As told in an article on WHYY)

Kaila Caffey, Senior at Central High School
“I think the only question that’s really important in determining if protests will lead to change is, are the right people listening. People tend to forget that protests are legitimately organized. In my experience with the Philadelphia Student Union, the organizations supporting walkouts and protests follow-up with the appropriate local leaders. In Philly, city council has already supported and responded to student protests so I’m confident change at least will be made locally.”