They walked. They chanted, with slogans like “enough is enough” and “never again.”
But at 10 a.m., a hush fell over the multitude of students who walked out of class and onto Harris Field Wednesday in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day.
More than 1,000 students from Bronx Science and the High School of American Studies filled the field, joining thousands of other students across the Bronx, and many thousands more across the country, demanding gun control legislation and fighting to prevent another school mass shooting like the one in Parkland.
In the bleachers stood Leah Yoes and Riley Gordon, who led a procession of students reading the names of the 17 victims from the Parkland shooting, along with a little bit about who each of them were.
“How many more deaths will it take before Congress decides that this is an issue?” Gordon asked the crowd. One student held up a sign with a bloodied map of America with “unsafe” written across it. Another carried a poster with a quote from satirist Andy Borowitz: “Maybe this is crazy, but I think the right to own a gun is trumped by the right not to be shot by one.”
Bronx Science and American Studies were not alone. Riverdale Country School joined a number of other local schools in a student walkout, despite the fact it conflicted with March exams. In addition, Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy and IN-Tech Academy showed solidarity with the Parkland victims by leaving their classrooms Wednesday morning.
But there were more than just protests and speeches at Harris Field. There were attempts to actually make a difference — at the ballot box. A voter registration booth was on hand giving those students turning (or about to turn) 18 a chance to share their voice with their vote.
Before the students filed back into their classrooms, Gordon shared one last pledge of encouragement.
“We will not forget Sandy Hook,” he said, or “Columbine, Virginia Tech or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”