ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Thousands of student descended Wednesday on the Capitol to protest gun violence and demand changes three weeks after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.
The students first gathered at St. Paul’s Central High School around 11 a.m. and walked 20 blocks down Marshall Avenue to the capitol grounds, where they held a rally at Leif Erickson Park. It’s estimated around 5,000 students participated in the walkout.
Although the temperature was around 25 degrees noontime, many wore T-shirts and trudged through the snow in tennis shoes, all while carrying signs and chanting.
The students say they skipped class to send a message to adults.
“We’re students…but we still have voices and we should fight for it, this is our stand,” said Liya Gebremarian, a sophomore at Central High School.
— Mary McGuire (@mcguirereports) March 7, 2018
During the rally, the students heard from lawmakers who are pushing for stronger gun control laws. State Rep. Dave Pinto (D – Highland Park) urged the students to keep the pressure on.
“You need to come back, day after day after day, until those bills get a hearing, get a vote and become law,” he said, adding: “Are you with me?”
For Central junior Jada Davis, the demonstration was personal.
Her cousin witnessed a campus shooting at Central Michigan University earlier this month.
“It was the last straw for me, because not only is this keep happening, but my family is involved in it, so something has to go,” she said.
Wednesday’s walkout won’t mark the end of student protest, as there are three more marches planned nationwide, with the final one slated for April 10, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a $21 million safety plan for preventing school shootings. The Democratic governor is also asking lawmakers to pass a series of gun restrictions, including age restrictions for assault rifles.