PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre and in the wake of a student movement after the Parkland, Florida school shooting, students across the nation are raising their voices.
They have a simple message to politicians: create change or face the consequences.
“Schools should be a safe place we can go and it’s not like that right now,” said ninth grader Lui Nehez.
For this reason, thousands of students across the country left class Monday as part of the National School Walkout, and students in our area joined the cause, calling on politicians to enact gun control measures or step aside.
“We will vote you out if you don’t make a difference so you better make it fast,” said 14-year-old Spencer Kamens, who helped organize the walkout at Germantown Friends School.
While she can’t legally vote yet, she says she can mobilize those who are of voting age.
“We still have a voice and we’re using it for good and it really makes me proud of everyone that’s involved in this,” Kamens said.
Germantown Friends School organized buses for students who wished to go to City Hall. Others took public transportation.
“We believe in allowing the children to find their voice and we believe adults would be well served if we start listening to our students,” said Dana Weeks, head of school, who estimated 95 percent of the high school walked out.
Hundreds of students from different schools converged on Philadelphia City Hall, protesting gun violence with a “die-in” then marching to Aviator Park by Logan Square for a rally.
“Books, not bullets,” they chanted.
“It’s amazing actually. It’s very energizing. Everybody is united, fighting for the same cause. I love it,” said Franklin Learning Center senior Aaquil Brinkley.
Specifically, students are demanding action, including a ban on assault weapons and universal background checks before gun sales.
“We should use our voices to make a change. It’s not right to sit still and let this fade away,” Nehez said.
More than 2,600 schools across the country participated in the walkout, according to National School Walkout organizers.