LOS ANGELES — Thousands of Southland students took part in another national school walkout April 20 in support of tougher gun laws and safe campuses as they marked the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
Organized student gatherings were held at many campuses, including open-microphone forums and discussions with local elected leaders, while other students marched along streets and hundreds of kids gathered on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.
More than 2,100 events where held nationally as part of the National School Walkout.
“We are walking out for those who lost their lives to gun violence, to talk about the real problems our country is facing and to find solutions [for] the problems that our leaders have failed to address,” organizers said.
The walkouts occurred at 10 a.m. on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, which left 12 students and one teacher dead, in addition to the two gunmen.
At Cleveland Charter High School in Reseda, hundreds of students gathered in the campus quad for a voter-registration drive and to call on government leaders to act on gun control.
“We need to see changes in our government to prevent mass shootings from happening,” student organizer Jacob Zonis told ABC7. “We’re talking about banning assault weapons, banning bump stocks, universal background checks. We’re talking about no-fly-no-buy, to end people who are on federal no-fly lists from being able to purchase firearms. Ultimately what we want are safe schools and a safe nation.”
At Dorsey High School, Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Unified School District Police Chief Steven Zipperman took part in what they called a “walk-in,” speaking to students about safety and legislative issues on gun control.
“I’m proud of the activism, whether they’re walking in or walking out,” Bass said. “I thought it was a great creative idea to have a walk-in, and I’m happy to participate with them.”
At Los Angeles City Hall, hundreds of students gathered in a mass demonstration calling for legislative action on gun control. Many chanted slogans and waved signs with slogans such as “Protect Our Future.”
Similar events were held at schools from Culver City to the San Fernando Valley to Santa Ana.
Students at Culver City Middle School walked out of class and gathered at Veterans Memorial Park, where they voiced their opinions on gun violence.
“Simply walking out will not change everything, but allowing students to get their voices heard and take action is motivation within itself that can lead the path for change,” eighth-grade student and event co-organizer Kira Grimes said. “It’s an act of symbolism and allows us to fight for a cause that directly affects us so change can commence and we no longer have to come to school fearing for our lives.”
State Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, met with students at University High School and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer Jr., D-South Los Angeles, met with students at Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School in Huntington Park.
State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and LAUSD interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, met with students at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.