Students across the country walked out of classes today in peaceful demonstration seeking gun law reform exactly one month after the Valentines Day massacre in Parkland, FL, where 17 were slaughtered by an AR-15 wielding angry former student.
Many #Enough! National School Walkout demonstrations lasted 17 minutes to represent each of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
But not so here in Horry County, SC, in the heart of gun country.
Here parents were told all week that if students walked out as part of the protest they would face discipline. The logic given was to prevent them from becoming targets outside of school during the walkout. Instead, school officials promised to recognize those killed in Parkland with an appropriate ceremony inside.
No matter that students walk out of school to go o to their buses every day or to go to the athletic field for practice or football games. All of a sudden this became a "safety" issue.
"I think there’s some leeway given to each school if they want to honor the students who were slain in Florida, but one thing we have not allowed is a walkout to the outside, which obviously puts children in harm’s way having them all congregating in an area that’s outside that’s totally unprotected," said school board Chair Joe DeFeo.
Here's what one high school student here told me:
"They didn't let us do it. We were reprimanded and told that protesting wouldn't get anything done. Instead, they had us come into the lobby and my principal rang a bell 17 times, and it only took two minutes.
"I'm very unhappy with what my school and county did and I'm definitely going through with the one April 20th no matter what they say."
She was referring to an all-day walkout being planned by students for April 20 to keep the pressure on lawmakers to make change, to make their schools safe, to enact meaningful gun control laws. April 20 is the 19-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The protest, dubbed the National High School Walkout, encourages participants to walk out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. on April 20 and leave school for the day.
In other areas around the country, school officials went on television to express their support of today's demonstration, giving credit to students for positively responding on this important issue. But that didn't happen here. Not at all.
It doesn't matter, really, because all across the nation students were heard. Their point was made and it is clear they are not giving up. Their time is coming. Just wait until they take office.