Joining thousands of schools nationwide, Ballard students walked out of their second periods on Wednesday in a protest for gun control legislation that included speeches from students as well as two state legislators and Governor Jay Inslee. The walkout was part of a national response to the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. According to principal Keven Wynkoop, nearly 1,000 students walked out of their classes today.
“Of course, there’s no real precise way to know how many kids walked out today, but by my best estimate it was around a thousand,” Wynkoop said. “I haven’t heard from any teachers that the majority of their second period class stayed in the building.”
Students gathered in front of the building, underneath the Ballard sign, where a podium had been set up for the speakers. Reporters and photographers from local news organizations, circled the fringes of the crowd.
Freshman Ellie Rice took the podium first, decrying the cyclical pattern of gun violence in the United States.
“Thoughts and prayers have pretty much gotten us nowhere,” says Rice, noting that the lack of progress towards stricter gun laws has created an unsafe environment for students.
“We should not have to see one of our brothers and sisters get killed because of the inaction of politicians, whose job it is to protect the welfare of their constituents,” Rice said.
Rice was followed by junior Marlowe Barrington, who recounted Ballard’s own experience with the gun violence crisis during the lockdown in the year 2016.
Washington’s 36th district Rep. Noel Frame followed, shifting the topic slightly from gun control to the education budget but ultimately tying it together with a call to students to register to vote. Followed by Frame was a representative from the office of congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.
Governor Jay Inslee also made an appearance, appealing to the “Beaver Pride” he was familiar with, noting also that his father was a Ballard alumnus. Inslee plans to tighten restrictions around the purchasing of guns during the 2019 legislative session.
A walkout was also held at Roosevelt High School, as well as around 95 other schools in the Puget Sound area. Students at Roosevelt took to the streets, walking as a group from the high school to the University of Washington campus. Upon arrival, the group contained several thousand participants, including students from both the University of Washington and Roosevelt, as well as students from other schools and community members alike.
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