Students at about a dozen Central Ohio schools plan to stage another walkout on Friday morning, calling for gun reform and commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
On April 20, 1999, a mass shooting at Columbine High School left 15 people dead and 24 injured. Student activists across the country—newly motivated by February's attack in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people— will mark the occasion by again pressing for stricter gun legislation.
Unlike previous protests, this one will begin at 10 a.m. and last through the end of the day. In addition to the walkout, students are planning to protest Friday evening at the Ohio Statehouse.
Students staged demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the Parkland massacre, before organizing a nationwide, coordinated walkout one month after the shooting. At Upper Arlington High School, administrators and even organizers themselves seemed surprised with the turnout at that first event.
When it came to the second protest, a month later, students spent weeks planning and organizing moments of silence, speeches and marches. Many schools in Central Ohio participated—some with the blessing of administrators and some without.
This time around, however, students haven't universally secured the approval of administrators. Activists at Westerville South and Central High Schools were denied permission to walkout, and will be holding voter registration drives instead. Students at Westerville North are allowed to protest if their parents sign them out of class.
And at Upper Arlington High School, participants in the walkout will receive a lunch detention for every class they miss.
NORTH: North is hosting a walkout from 10-2:05, but students can come out whenever they feel comfortable. Gather on the tree lawn near Countyline. It is very important that you get your parents to sign you out if you decide to walk out so that you don’t face any consequences.
— Westerville Walkout (@WvilleWalkout) April 19, 2018
WESTERVILLE CENTRAL AND SOUTH: We will NOT being hosting a walkout on Friday, April 20th. Instead we will have a table set up during lunches providing information about voting and gun control and we will have voter registration forms
SOUTH:We will also have stickers and bracelets
— Westerville Walkout (@WvilleWalkout) April 18, 2018<
If you walkout on April 20, you will now receive a lunch detention for every class you miss, not a Saturday school.
— UAHS Walkout (@UAwalkout) April 19, 2018
Their activism hasn’t been completely ignored by lawmakers. Gov. John Kasich called for new gun control restrictions, and both Democrats and Republicans introduced bills in the Ohio General Assembly ranging from "red flag" restrictions and bump stock bans to "Stand Your Ground." None have gotten very far, although the Ohio House passed a bill to bolster school security.
Congress, meanwhile, has refused to take up the broad nationwide reforms activists have demanded.
A thread of messages from our members:
Mel is one of our organizers for the lie-in and a member of SOYA! pic.twitter.com/D4iaWB8K6S
— State of Ohio Youth Activists (@SOYAOrg) April 16, 2018
At least 11 schools in the Columbus area planned walkouts for April 20:
- Metro Institute of Technology
- Grandview Heights High School
- The Ohio State University
- Metro Early College High School
- The Arts & College Preparatory Academy
- Upper Arlington High School
- Canal Winchester High School
- Phoenix Middle School
- Hilliard Davidson High School
- Hilliard Darby High School
- Dublin Coffman High School
- Pickerington High School North
- Westerville North High School