San Jose Peace & Justice Center
by Cameron, a Peace & Justice Center intern
Photo via CBS12
Alyssa Alhadeff. Scott Beigel. Martin Duque Anguiano. Nicholas Dworet. Aaron Feis. Jamie Guttenberg. Chris Hixon. Luke Hoyer. Cara Loughran. Gina Montalto. Joaquin Oliver. Alaina Petty. Meadow Pollack. Helena Ramsay. Alex Schachter. Carmen Schentrup. Peter Wang.

These are the names of the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. They are the names that rekindled the national debate over gun control, but this time, teens are bringing state and Congressional legislators to attention.

Students across the nation, including the Bay Area, at over 2,500 schools walked out at 10 AM to have 17 minutes of silence in solidarity for the 17 dead. While Youth Empower, a subset of the Women’s March group, originally proposed the event, the idea spread to become nationwide, with many different interpretations for the format of the event. Many schools used this time as a platform to voice their views of gun control and the relatively lax legislations preventing school and general public safety. 

While most school administrators and administrations openly embraced this time for student political activism, there was a general confusion if there should be reprimands for participation during class time. The Milpitas Unified School District superintendent gave a firm warning against student participation in the walkout whereas the Palo Alto Unified School District applauded their students’ participation. The ACLU provided assistance and resources for students in exercising their rights.

Additionally, many schools featured a spout of counter-protestors, raising also the concern of how far the government should intervene with regard to gun control and infringe upon Americans’ rights prescribed within the 2nd Amendment. The walkout was also a precursor to the March for Our Lives event that several of the Parkland students are organizing in Washington DC on March 24, which seeks to protest the inaction within Congress to have any sort of gun legislation heard, despite its pervasive implications in schools nationwide.

Overall, the mostly-student-run events raised general interest and sparked student discussions about political activism. Though teens cannot yet vote, events like these raised awareness about United States government policies, especially with contentious topics like gun control. If you are a teenager or you know of any teenager who would like to have your voice heard, register early to vote in the next US Congressional election by texting P2P to RTVOTE. There will also be a March for Our Lives at the San José City Hall. Click for more information

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