On a crisp Wednesday morning, one month after the Parkland massacre, students across the country walked out of class to protest congressional inaction on gun reform. Clutching homemade signs and cellphones, they streamed out of their classrooms at 10 a.m., their young faces fixed with sober expressions as they filled the parking lots and football fields and sundry streets of more than 3,000 schools across the country.
In New York City, central locations like Columbus Circle, Brooklyn Borough Hall, and Battery Park became convergence points for hundreds of students. They stopped traffic in East Harlem, rallied outside the state Supreme Court building in Queens, and marched to the Department of Education headquarters in the Bronx.
Students in Bed-Stuy and elsewhere linked arms for a moment of silence that lasted for seventeen minutes, one for each life lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. In Chelsea, a chorus of young voices carried for blocks, their irate chants alternating between “We want change” and “Fuck the NRA.” At one point, a teenage girl in midtown stood on a bench and shouted, “Not my president!” in the direction of the Trump International Hotel, only to be shushed by a teacher.
Within an hour, the streets began to clear, and the students hurried back to class, still reeling from the excitement of their first collective action. “The most amazing part,” remarked Jake Harmen, a senior at Trevor Day School, “was finding students who felt exactly the same way we did, and being able to act on that.”