BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Boston students participated in National Walkout Day on Wednesday, a nationwide protest against gun violence.
Young people in the U.S. walked out of class to demand action on gun violence in what activists hoped would be the biggest demonstration of student activism yet in response to last month’s massacre in Florida.READ MORE: Mask Mandate Changes Anticipated In Massachusetts; Restaurants Wait For State Guidance
Many Boston-area high schools were closed due to snow. Some Somerville High School students joined an Emerson College walkout in Boston. The group marched to the State House to demand new gun laws.
“It’s always really sad to see students our age dying. It’s a horrible reality that we all have to face,” Somerville High freshman Sam Dornstein said.
“Today is just so empowering to have students all across the country coming together to stand in solidarity with Parkland and to really fight for these comprehensive gun control laws,” added Amamlia Hochman, a sophomore at the school.
Some students in Massachusetts said that after Wednesday’s protest, they planned to rally outside the Springfield headquarters of the gun maker Smith & Wesson.
“I support all of these kids because I am one of them. I just want to feel safe in my school and just have an education,” Julianna Egidio, an Emerson student, told WBZ-TV.
Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III praised the students for letting their voice be heard.
More than 3,000 walkouts were planned across the U.S. and around the world, organizers said. Students were urged to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim in the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.READ MORE: Exit Renumbering Project Moves To Interstate 495
Students from elementary school to college planned to take up the call in a variety of ways. Some were expected to hold roadside rallies to honor shooting victims and protest violence. Others planned demonstrations in school gyms or on football fields. In Massachusetts and Ohio, students said they would head to the statehouse to lobby for new gun laws.
Some schools applauded students for taking a stand or at least tolerated the walkouts, while others threatened discipline.
The coordinated walkout was organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March, which brought thousands to Washington last year.
Although the group wanted students to shape protests on their own, it also offered them a list of demands for lawmakers, including a ban on assault weapons and mandatory background checks for all gun sales.
“Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence,” the organization said on its website.
Other protests planned in coming weeks include the March for Our Lives rally for school safety, which organizers say is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital on March 24. Another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High shooting in Colorado.
The walkouts drew support from companies including media conglomerate Viacom, which planned to pause programming on MTV, BET and all its other networks for 17 minutes during the walkouts.
Districts in Sayreville, New Jersey, and Maryland’s Harford County drew criticism this week when they said students could face punishment for leaving class.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued advice for students who walk out, saying schools can’t legally punish them more harshly because of the political nature of their message. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, some lawyers said they would provide free legal help to students who are punished.MORE NEWS: 'Unthinkable Loss': 2 Cousins Drown While Skipping Rocks At Waldo Lake In Brockton
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)