Garfield High School students stand in silence to protest gun violence. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

Garfield High School students stand in silence to protest gun violence. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

Seattle Students Take Part in the National School Walkout

Garfield High School students pay tribute to the Parkland victims by rallying for gun control.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, hundreds of Garfield High School students emerged from their classrooms and piled onto the stairs to protest gun violence. A row of teenage girls with matching black Converse shoes stood in front, holding a hand-made banner bearing the words “Ban Assault Rifles” in green and orange letters. Other students held an array of manufactured and hand-made posters adorned with phrases such as “Enough is Enough” and “#Armme with books not bullets.” Tears streamed down the faces of a couple of students as the rest of the crowd hung their head in silence for 17 minutes. All the while, students Talis Mace, 15, and Sam Treat, 16, took turns reading the names of the 17 people fatally shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. last month. Only the roaring sounds of a drone and planes soaring overhead pierced the sobering silence.

“Students of America are here today to demand our lawmakers ban assault weapons like AR-15s,” Treat said to the crowd at the start of the rally.

The school joined at least 18 others throughout Seattle to commemorate the victims of the Parkland shooting and to demand that Congress prevent future mass shootings by passing stricter gun control legislation. Wednesday’s event was part of the Enough: National School Walkout organized by Women’s March Youth Empower. Garfield High School sophomores Treat and Mace spearheaded their school’s walkout once they realized that it wasn’t included in the national walkout list.

“We want to make this more than just a walkout. We want to make it an opportunity for you to raise your voice for real change to occur,” Treat said, facing the crowd at the demonstration. He encouraged students to retreat to tables in the courtyard to sign letters to politicians and register to vote.

“Please continue to educate yourself and make sure that you are setting the example for those who come after you. We are the generation that will change this,” Mace concluded.

Garfield High School students protest gun violence at the student walkout on Wednesday. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

Garfield High School students protest gun violence at the student walkout on Wednesday. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

Since most of the students were born after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the fear of school shootings have been part of their daily reality. But last month’s Parkland shooting hit close to home for many students who had finally had enough of politicians’ “thoughts and prayers.” That was the case for junior Bryce Groen, 17, who wanted to ensure that the student activism catalyzed in the aftermath of the Parkland massacre didn’t “die out.”

“A lot of what we’ve seen happen over and over again as we grow up … kids our age die from gun violence and then people wait just enough time where the public starts to forget about it, and then they continue without doing anything,” Groen said as he stood in line to write letters to politicians after the rally. “We’re trying to say ‘No, that’s not okay. You have to deal with this, because we’re going to die if you don’t.’ ”

He was especially concerned for his and his classmates’ safety after Garfield High School received a gun threat last month. The administration apprehended the accused student before a shooting, but it “definitely changed the way I felt at school,” Groen said. And he’s not the only one who has been shaken by the dozens of school shootings throughout his lifetime. Groen says everyone he knows has had at least one nightmare in which they’ve been trapped in a school with an active shooter. Yet despite the threat of gun violence nationally, he added that he was unaware of any active shooter drills at the school.

Groen plans on participating in the March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24 to demand safer schools and gun control legislation. As the president of the school’s chapter of the non-partisan youth group Junior State of America, Groen also hopes to register his peers to vote and generate discussions on preventing violence and encouraging student activism.

Although action by politicians at the national level remains to be seen, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of Wednesday’s walkout, stating that it promotes “legislative action by our State and Congressional Legislature to enact stricter gun safety laws including but not limited to tighter background checks, banning the purchasing bump stocks, and other restrictions on the purchase of semi and fully automatic weapons.”

mhellmann@seattleweekly.com

During the walkout, Garfield High School students sign a poster that will be delivered to politicians. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

During the walkout, Garfield High School students sign a poster that will be delivered to politicians. Photo by Melissa Hellmann

More in News & Comment

Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26. Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia
Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

Alaska Airlines to begin Everett-Spokane service on Nov. 4

It will be the carrier’s first in-state route and its 10th destination from Paine Field.

As his wife Heather looks on, John Norman gets a hug from his daughter Amber Nelson, and granddaughter Ashlee Nelson, right, after his replica of the Spirit of St. Louis flew for the first time from Arlington Municipal Airport on Sunday, July 28, 2019 in Arlington, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
This might be the best Spirit of St. Louis replica ever made

A plane like the one Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic logged its first flight in Arlington.

Renton Police Officer Tanuj Soni has been charged with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and abuse of office. Photo courtesy of City of Renton
Court documents reveal details of alleged assault by a Renton police officer

Deputy Chief says RPD is performing an internal investigation

Chronicling the last years of a dying North Cascades glacier

For nearly four decades, scientist Mauri Pelto has journeyed to measure the melting Columbia Glacier.

What can otters tell us about watershed pollution?

An Oregon professor spent a year on Whidbey studying river otters for insight into the environment.

Lying, spying and destroying evidence spur guardian reforms

Judges say court-appointed guardians broke the law to keep a child away from her troubled parents.

Woman accused of trying to lure girl from family in Edmonds

The Lynnwood suspect allegedly was also seen photographing the 4-year-old at the Edmonds Yacht Club.

Bikini baristas could take dress code fight to Supreme Court

For now, they’ve requested a rehearing after the federal court sided with the city of Everett in July.

Most Read