National Walkout Day At Columbine High School Involved This Moving Tribute To Parkland Victims
As students across the nation walked out of school to protest gun violence Wednesday morning, teenagers from Columbine High School took a few moments to recognize the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida — as well as their own school's past. After students poured out of the Littleton, Colorado school to stand with other activists advocating for gun reform, National Walkout Day At Columbine High School featured a moving memorial to the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
"Even though Columbine happened 19 years ago, nothing has changed to prevent this from happening again," one student protester said, according to The Denver Post's Elizabeth Hernandez.
The dozens of students who gathered outside of the Littleton high school left class for 30 minutes, a period of time that symbolizes the 17 Parkland victims as well as the 13 people who died in a mass shooting at Columbine in 1999. They released 17 red, white, and blue balloons — one at a time — in remembrance of the Parkland victims, MSNBC reports. Before observing a moment of silence, students read the names of the the students and teachers who died at Stoneman Douglas earlier this year as well as those who were killed at Columbine 19 years ago.
Though most high schoolers were born after the 1999 shooting, they've seen the same tragedy happen over and over again across the U.S. Since the Columbine mass shooting shook the nation, there have been at least 10 school shootings that killed four or more people. Those shootings, including the one that took place at Stoneman Douglas on Valentine's Day, have resulted in 122 deaths.
“We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and continuously asking: Why? Why does this keep happening?” one Columbine student said Wednesday, according to The New York Times' Julie Turkewitz.
Columbine students told CNN they were inspired to take action after seeing the progress Parkland survivors have made the past month. The Florida student activists have managed to keep the nation's attention on gun reform, influence Florida lawmakers to raise the minimum age for gun purchases, and use their social media platforms to call out politicians taking money from the NRA.
Students reiterated Parkland survivors' calls to end the NRA's stronghold on Washington on Wednesday, as well as warned politicians that many teens will turn 18 before the November midterms and the 2020 election. “If you’re going to continue to take money from the NRA and not listen to the children, not listen to the people who are calling and screaming for change,” one of the Columbine walkout's organizers said, according to Turkewitz, “you will not have my vote, you will not have millions of other people’s votes.”
Columbine students were joined Wednesday by former principal Frank DeAngelis, who led the school during the 1999 shooting. He told reporters the Parkland Shooting has re-traumatized the Columbine community. "The big difference is students are speaking out," he said, according to Hernandez.
In an interview after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, DeAngelis said the scene gave him flashbacks to the tragedy he witnessed 19 years ago. “I see these kids running out of a building in a different state … it takes me back to Columbine and envisioning our kids running out of that building," he told KDVR. “We can never get to the point where we’re immune."
Columbine students who walked out on Wednesday want to make sure the nation doesn't become immune to emotion when hearing about school shootings. They carried signs that featured messages such as "Enough is Enough" and "We Demand Change." For the Columbine community, change has been 19 years coming.