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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A month after a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students across the nation, including here in Middle Tennessee participated in walkouts to protest gun violence.
The walkouts began at 10 a.m. in each time zone and lasted 17 minutes to show solidarity and the need for new laws regarding gun control.
Several Middle Tennessee middle and high schools, many Metro-Nashville Public Schools, participated in the event.
Since the walkout was a national event, MNPS set aside a place and time for students to observe.
About 100 students at West End Middle School held signs and chanted, “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! America needs gun control!” before forming a circle for a moment of silence to honor the 17 students and teachers killed in last month’s high school shooting.
West End Middle School’s principal was outside the school with the students and a Metro police officer was also on standby to make sure everyone was safe.
Some students even marched to the state capitol, all while urging Tennessee lawmakers to make a change and put school safety first.
“What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!” the students chanted.
Maisy Owen rallied some students from Nashville School of the Arts to take their message to the capitol, despite Metro school officials encouraging students to stay inside.
“They wanted the students to sit in the hallways for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost in Parkland, but we’ve been silent for such a long time that more silence isn’t going to do anything. We have to leave the schools and protest,” Owen told News 2.
A planned inside assembly at Hume Fogg with guest speaker Tarana Burke, founder of the #metoo movement, ended with the activist telling students to go out and protest. That’s when hundreds marched the streets to the capitol.
“We thought that we could not truly express our anger and our frustration with our legislature unless we were outside protesting with the rest of our brothers and sisters,” added Payton Renfroe, a senior at Hume Fogg.
“We are out here not because we are trying to be rebellious, but because we need to see something change in our country now,” said Hume Fogg senior Naomi Horne.
Metro school officials said any student that stayed out past the 17 minute national observation time would face consequences.
Some students News 2 spoke with said they will have unexcused absences, while others said they were warned they would be suspended.
Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools also allowed students to participate, but only with parents’ permission.
Rutherford and Williamson counties also had in-depth plans for students on Wednesday.
At Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro several dozen students participated in the walkout and gathered on the soccer field behind the school. One student was seen addressing the crowd, while another played an instrument. Students were also seen with their heads bowed.
Hundreds of students participated in the 17-minute long walk out at Independence High School in Thompson’s Station. Some of the students were seen carrying signs, while other spent time writing letters to lawmakers. Students were not allowed to leave the campus and sheriff’s deputies were on site.