Gig Harbor students plan to march, protest and hold rallies and community forums on Wednesday, exactly one month after the Parkland shooting.
Over 125 students in 15 states have come together in the group, according to a press release from National Student Walkout for Change. Griffin Bird, a junior at Gig Harbor High School and event organizer, is planning a local walkout for students who want to honor the victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
“The vast majority of Americans, including many gun owners, support safer gun laws and a responsible gun industry,” Griffin said in the press release. “From mandatory background checks to banning AR-15s. Yet legislators haven’t taken decisive action. We can thank Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington’s legislators for passing (State Bill 6620) this week (banning bump stocks), but we have a long way to go.”
“I, and many of my peers, will be able to vote soon and it is time for accountability. Our votes will elect legislators who support responsible gun policies and who do not accept campaign funds from the NRA or other companies in the arms industry. Our generation will flood the ballot boxes like a tidal wave. We’ll rally courageous leaders who take a stand,” Griffin said.
The walkout begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday (March 14), in solidarity with students across the country. The Gig Harbor students will hold a moment of silence to honor their peers who have been killed in mass school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; Marysville Pilchuck High School Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut; Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon; Virginia Tech University; Red Lake, Montana; Columbine (Colorado) High School and more, according to the press release.
After the moment of silence, many students will go back to class but one group of students will host a protest at the intersection of Point Fosdick Drive NW and Olympic Drive NW, and another will march down Rosedale, along the waterfront to the Harbor History Museum at 4121 Harborview Drive.
The students encourage and invite the community to engage with them through the following activities at the museum:
- 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Letter-writing campaign inviting community members to send a note calling for safe schools via gun control and other measures to their legislators. Students will provide paper, pens and pre-addressed envelopes.
- 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Support for voter registration. Focus on signing up nearly-18 and 18-year-olds, as well as other unregistered eligible voters in the community.
- 2 - 3:30 p.m.: Community forum inviting the public to learn more about National Student Walkout for Change and open a dialogue about how to make schools and communities safer in regard to gun violence.
Gig Harbor High School teacher Heidi Steele, who has heard from many students about their feelings around the Parkland shooting and their plans to take action, emphasized with her students.
“The students planning to walk out for the day are not looking for an excuse to skip school, as some may suggest,” Steele said. “They’re taking action with the intent of achieving clearly defined goals. They are incredibly well informed and many have done extensive research on all sides of the issues. They have activities planned during the day to engage the community. I’m proud to see our students acting as we all hope our youth will behave — as energized and committed citizens participating in democracy.”