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Students To Walk Out For Gun Control


Across the country this morning, students are walking out of their classrooms to call for stricter gun laws and to protest the mass shooting that happened one month ago when 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. NPR's Jeff Brady is in Philadelphia, where the protest there is already underway.

Hey, Jeff.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

MARTIN: Where are you, and what's going on?

BRADY: I am outside Franklin Learning Center. That's a magnet school near downtown Philadelphia. And right now - well, right at about 10 o'clock, a bunch of students just came streaming out the front doors here. They blocked off the street in front of the school - loudspeakers set up. And the organizer read the names of so many students I lost count who have been killed in school shootings. And I have one of the students here with me. Her name is Lovely Saimesier.

MARTIN: Oh, great.

BRADY: She is a senior here at Franklin Learning Center. And why did you want to participate in this today?

LOVELY SAIMESIER: I wanted to participated because I wanted to bring awareness to what's going on in this country and for people to see how us students want to get involved in bringing awareness to the rest of the country.

BRADY: And what do you want to come out of this movement that's developing of students around the country?

SAIMESIER: I want everyone, including the government, to get involved in stopping this crisis in this country and to know - like, to know that it's not OK, what's going on.

BRADY: Thank you so much for talking with me. That's Lovely Saimesier. She's a senior here at Franklin Learning Center. And now this protest is on the move. People are marching down the street now. They're carrying banners with the hashtag #EnoughIsEnough.

MARTIN: So clearly, students - they are motivated. They're wanting some kind of change or at least to be heard. How have schools responded to all this, Jeff? Clearly, I imagine the rules are different in different districts, but what can you tell us on that front?

BRADY: Yeah. A lot of schools have certainly been preparing for this. They sent letters out to parents letting them know what's planned and what the school's policy is. Here in Philadelphia, they've encouraged students to participate in the protest. They said that they are expected to return to class after that 17-minute protest is over. That's not happening, so some of these students are probably going to get marked absent, but they don't seem too concerned about this. This is a really important issue to the students who are participating in this. And, you know, just thinking about numbers - this protest, they were hoping for 600, and I think the organizers might have actually reached that.

MARTIN: And this, of course, I mean, there's a march. Now you're saying this protest that was only supposed to last 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people who lost their lives in Parkland, Fla., but it's already exceeded that. Now it's on the move. And there's a bigger protest planned for later this month, right?

BRADY: Yes. Saturday, March 24 in Washington, D.C., and other cities around the country, there are protest marches planned. And then, also, a lot of schools are going to be marking April 20. That is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado. So we have more protests coming in the next few months.

MARTIN: All right, NPR's Jeff Brady in Philadelphia covering the student protests there and around the country - students walking out, calling for stricter gun laws. Thanks so much, Jeff.

BRADY: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.