- File photo
Students in schools across the Pikes Peak region were poised to participate in the National School Walkout on March 14, when more than 2,500 walkouts are planned. Those schools included Palmer High, Rampart High, West Middle School, Coronado High, Cheyenne Mountain High and Manitou Springs High, among others.
The protest, organized by Women's March Youth EMPOWER, is designed to "protest Congress's inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods" and to demand lawmakers pass legislation to keep schools safe from gun violence.
The walkouts are motivated by the Valentine's Day shooting by suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, that killed 17 and injured another 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The shooting has given rise to demands from teens across the country for gun reforms and tighter school security.
While student walkouts have long been an accepted form of protest — and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they are protected by the First Amendment — a March 8 Gazette editorial opposed the walkouts, labeling the Women's March group "left-wing activists" that are "enticing children to walk from schools, to engage in aimless activism," which, the editorial said, "jeopardizes their safety." It also suggested if schools want to engage youth in improving school safety, "they should initiate an essay contest."