There used to be a pattern. First, the school shooting, children dead. Then, outcry. Finally, no effective action taken to prevent another massacre. Repeat.
But a group of angry and passionate teens from Parkland, Florida, have disrupted this horrific status quo, elevating their voices across social media, into state legislature, and all the way to Washington D.C. Milwaukee-area students are following suit next Wednesday, Mar. 14, as hundreds of pupils will leave their respective classes for 17 minutes — in honor of the 17 Parkland victims.
Multiple Milwaukee Public Schools will be joining in, as are Whitefish Bay High School, Shorewood High School and Homestead High School, to name just a few. These walkouts were initially spearheaded by Samantha Hentzen — Whitefish Bay senior and Women’s March-Wisconsin’s regional director — and are in part inspired by the March for our Lives movement and demonstration taking place in Washington D.C. on March 26. Milwaukee students are planning their own march on city hall that day to echo their national counterparts.
Katie Eder, founder and leader of the international nonprofit Kid’s Tales and a Shorewood senior, is leading Shorewood High School’s walkout. She and her team plan on participation from as many as 700 students, including those from Shorewood Middle School, all of whom will leave school at 10 a.m. Per Eder, they are walking out because they believe it is not fair to be scared to go school because of gun control issues that are not being addressed by adults.
“People come together in times of tragedy, and now we’re using that energy to effect change,” Eder says. “But it’s important to stress that this isn’t partisan — kids aren’t safe, and I don’t think that changing that should be a political issue.”
Students will likely not face disciplinary action due to participating in these walkouts, and though teachers, by contract, are not allowed to act politically, the students have received support from some of them for their cause, calling them “adult allies.” Echoing the Parkland survivors, the Shorewood students and others are calling for three major actions by Wisconsin state legislature:
- A ban on military weapons
- Restrictions on bump stocks
- Stricter regulations on gun purchases, i.e. enhanced background checks
According to Brendan Fardella, one of Eder’s team members, these legislative actions are just the beginning. “This is more about us coming together and, as a movement, figuring out how we can be safe in our schools,” he says.
Per Fardella, the Shorewood walkout will not have hundreds of students sitting idly outside the high school. Instead, microphones will be set up for students to read spoken-word poems and sing songs, all calling for their safety. Though pro-gun legislators and politicians argue against the efficacy and legality of the students’ aims, in the wake of the Parkland tragedy students in Milwaukee and across the country have come together to effect change with never-before-seen vigor.