With shooting massacres and plots to commit similar mayhem continuing on high school campuses across the country, students themselves and advocacy groups are loudly demanding tougher gun control legislation from state and federal officials.
The response is not just vocal.
Organizers behind the Women’s marches are encouraging a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14. And the Network for Public Education, which advocates for public schools, is promoting a day of walkouts, sit-ins and other events on school campuses nationwide on April 20. That is the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado where 12 students and one teacher were killed.
And on March 24, A March for Our Lives is planned in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country in support of students “to demand that their lives and safety become a priority.” A Los Angeles event is expected to be held at Pershing Square.
The most recent destructive action took place in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14, when 14 students and three staff members were killed, and 16 others wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The alleged assailant — Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Stoneman Douglas who had been expelled — is in custody and reportedly has confessed to the shootings.
Cruz is said to have mental health issues which, according to published media reports, included a diagnosis of autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. He had previously been reported to law enforcement, including to the FBI on its tip line, before he legally purchased a semiautomatic rifle.
South Florida high school students have already staged walkouts, demanding legislators there make changes to gun laws. And on Wednesday, Feb. 21, thousands of Florida students packed the state capitol in Tallahassee as survivors from Stoneman Douglas addressed the legislature, seeking change.
Closer to home, a student who got into an argument with a teacher at El Camino High School in South Whittier is alleged to have threatened to “shoot up the campus.” Investigating LA county Sheriff’s deputies discovered and removed a cache of weapons and ammunition from the student’s home on Feb. 16.
Protest plans have been circulating on social media.
Officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District told the San Fernando Sun/El Sol the district would “soon” release a statement on whether to encourage or discourage its students and teachers from participating in any walkouts or protests.
Several top Hollywood celebrities are making their support of the planned events known with their wallets.
George and Amal Clooney swiftly offered their backing for the Washington, D.C. march in both words and money.
“Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School,” George Clooney said. “Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we’re donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event. Our children’s lives depend on it.”
Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw, later matched the donation.
“The young students in Florida and now across the country are already demonstrating their leader-ship with a confidence and maturity that belies their ages,” Spielberg said. “Kate and I applaud their efforts to take a stand for the benefit of this and future generations.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former Walt Disney Co. and DreamWorks Animation chief, also announced a $500,000 donation in conjunction with his wife, Marilyn.
And Oprah Winfrey pledged $500,000.
“These inspiring young people remind me of the Freedom Riders of the 60s who also said we’ve had enough and our voices will be heard,” Winfrey wrote on her Twitter page.
(City News Service contri-buted to this story.)