NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Students in the Tri-State Area were among those participating in a nationwide walk-out to protest gun violence on Wednesday.
Linda Beigel Schulman spent the day urging parents on Long Island to join their children in national protests until they see change. Her son, Dix Hills native Scott Beigel, had only been teaching at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School less than a year when he was shot and killed along with 16 others.
“I just want to hear his voice on the phone Monday through Friday again and I want my hugs when I go down to Florida and wherever he is I’m still trying to figure out where that may be,” she told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “I just want him to be proud of me the way I am proud of him.”
The walkouts began Wednesday morning. Many in our area joined the protests, from the Beacon School and LaGuardia High School in New York City to Montville High School in New Jersey. In Fairfield, Connecticut, students took over their athletic field.
Students left class for a symbolic 17 minutes, to honor the 17 classmates killed one month one month after the deadly shooting inside the high school in Parkland, Florida.
Many got emotional as they shouted their message out loud and clear: Enough is enough. They want stricter gun laws so they can feel safe in their classrooms.
Hundreds of students at the school took over West 44th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, turning it into a sea of orange — the color representing their desire to live free of gun violence.
Many students were moved to tears during a moment of silence, remembering those gunned down in Parkland.
Students In Long Island Participate In Nationwide Walkout
“Us students have had enough. As we watch the TV, I see myself in those kids. I know if I went to a different school that could’ve been me on TV,” said student Arielle Geismar. “This country has a problem and that youth are the people that are suffering because of it.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined some of them at two schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
De Blasio joined students at the Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn.
“To the students of New York City and this country, you are making it clear,” de Blasio wrote in Tweet. “You are sick of the violence, the madness, sick of the slaughter and you won’t stand for it. Change is coming because of you.”
Cuomo lay down side-by-side with students for a “die in” protest at the Leadership and Public Service High School in Lower Manhattan.
In a Tweet, Cuomo said “America’s students can clearly see what the GOP cannot: Weak gun laws are at the heart of America’s gun violence problem.”
Districts in Sayreville, New Jersey and Maryland’s Harford County drew criticism this week when they said students could face punishment for leaving class. At Sayreville War Memorial High School, only one student defied the threats of suspension. Everyone else opted out.
“Me personally, I’d rather go to class,” one student said.
Many students told Roy they hope to attend the national March for Our Lives protest later this month in Washington, D.C., as well as another protest set for New York City in April.
Nearly 3,000 walkouts were set across the country in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to the organizers.
“I wanted people to know that Stoneman Douglas will be the last school this happens to,” said Stoneman Douglas student Julie Brighton. “We wanted to make a change. We want to be the generation that changes everything.”
The coordinated walkout was organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March, which brought thousands to Washington, D.C., last year.
“We the young people of this country are advocating for change and we want change now,” said Cincinnati high school student Makayla Stover.
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 group said on its website.
The father 14-year-old Elena Petty, who was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, suggested an alternative to the walkout – suggesting instead students use the time as a “walk up,” to approach 14 fellow students and 3 adults, or approach ostracized students in a class.
Other schools sought a middle ground, offering “teach-ins” or group discussions on gun violence. Some worked with students to arrange protests in safe locations on campus.
Officials at Boston Public Schools said they arranged a day of observance Wednesday with a variety of activities “to provide healthy and safe opportunities for students to express their views, feelings and concerns.” Students who don’t want to participate could bring a note from a parent to opt out.
Meanwhile, free speech advocates geared up for a battle. 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 will provide free legal help to students who are punished.
Wednesday’s walkout is one of several protests planned for coming weeks.
The March for Our Lives rally for school safety is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital on March 24, its organizers said.
Another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)