While the adults in America’s halls of power remain unable or unwilling to do much about gun violence in the United States, teenagers in cities across the country spent Wednesday walking out of class and taking to the streets to protest in the wake of the Parkland, FL, school shooting that left 17 people dead.
In Washington, D.C., hundreds of students from nearby schools gathered at the U.S. Capitol, where they chanted slogans opposing the National Rifle Association and demanding a better future for themselves and their peers.
Following their Capitol Hill protest, the students marched to the White House, where President Donald Trump was set to meet with survivors of gun violence—including from the massacre that took place in Parkland—later in the day.
In Florida, where just one day earlier, state lawmakers killed the chance for a discussion about gun control legislation, teens from Parkland rallied at the Capitol building to tell their stories of survival and urge their elected representatives to do better.
This isn’t to say the students’ presence was welcomed with open arms. According to CNN, a group of Stoneman Douglas students attempting to make the case for gun control were turned away by at least six state lawmakers during their rally at the Florida Capitol.
While Florida and D.C. were the dual epicenters of what has become a growing movement of teenagers standing up and speaking out against gun violence, they were by no means the only city where students left school to march for change.
In Pittsburgh, nearly 100 students from the Creative and Performing Arts Magnet High School marched to the city’s downtown Market Square, where they stood and observed 17 minutes of silence—one minute for each victim of the Stoneman High School shooting.
In Iowa City, around 200 students from at least three different schools spent their Tuesday marching through the city’s downtown, chanting “not one more.”
These protests, organized as part of the growing “March for our Lives” movement, are just the first in what is expected to be a multi-pronged show of direct action by teens fighting for gun control, with future nationwide rallies scheduled for March 14, 24, and April 20.
Of course, not every city has been receptive to this burgeoning effort. In a Facebook post, Needville, TX Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Rhodes warned students thinking about joining in the rallies: “Needville ISD will not allow a student demonstration during school hours for any type of protest or awareness!!”
“Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for 3 days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension,” Rhodes added.
It is unclear whether Rhodes’ heavy-handed warning was in response to specific plans for a walkout.