Students in Atlanta take a knee to protest gun violence
Hundreds of students in Atlanta took a knee on Wednesday in a silent protest to honor the victims of February’s Florida high school shooting.
Students nationwide took part in a 17-minute national walkout on Wednesday, exactly one month since a gunman killed 17 people and injured 14 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
About 600 students at Booker T. Washington High School participated in the student-led demonstration where they kneeled and bowed their heads “as a measure to show respect,” according to district officials.
The school was placed on a “soft” lockdown to prevent visitors and others from entering the school during the 17-minute demonstration. Students were instructed to comply with the school’s safety plan for the optional protest.
District communications director Latisha Gray stressed that officials were “absolutely in support of the students.”
Earlier tweets on the incident had mischaracterized the administration’s stance on the protests. Those tweets have since been deleted.
Gray said that nearly 16,000 of the district’s 52,000 students took part in similar demonstrations throughout the district.
NFL players starting “taking a knee” in 2016 seeking to protest police brutality and racial inequality. President Trump harshly criticized players who participated in the protests and repeatedly called for team owners to fire them.
Students nationwide have been calling on lawmakers to pass stricter gun and school safety laws in response to the Florida shooting, with many organizing protests and walkouts.
Survivors of the Florida shooting are planning the “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C., on March 24, and local marches have been planned nationwide for that day.
Updated at 2:55 p.m.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story based on preliminary reports incorrectly stated that the Atlanta students had been banned from participating in Wednesday’s protests.