Hundreds of Students Walk Out, Say They Won't Stop Calling For Gun Control

Apr 20, 2018

About 200 students from several Chapel Hill area schools marched together up a hill, and nearly five miles across their town behind an orange banner that said "Enough."

They walked out of their classes today to rally and call for tighter gun control legislation and an end to mass school shootings. Students converged on Franklin Street, yelling "Join Us To Walk Out of Class, No More Flags at Half Mast." Those students join others in the Raleigh area and across the country walking today on the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School. And they say they don't want legislators to forget about the shootings at Parkland High School in Florida two months ago. 

East Chapel Hill High Students Laura Meshnick and Frances O'Grady joined in Friday's National School Walkout
Credit Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

 "We want to disrupt the day to show that we are not safe in schools, and we want to send a message to our North Carolina representatives to push for common sense gun control," said East Chapel Hill High senior Talia Pomp. 

Pomp helped organize the march. She said the walkout is one of many actions local students have taken since the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.

"We've had activities at our schools, including writing letters for our representatives and voter registration," she said. "So it's the most we can do as high schoolers and it's also a symbolic gesture to show our solidarity."

Valerie Timberlake and others walked nearly 5 miles from East Chapel Hill High to Franklin Street while passing cars honked in favor of gun control legislation.
Credit Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Pomp said students at her school may face disciplinary action for the walkout, but consider the march an act of civil disobedience. Many colleges and universities have released statements saying that disciplinary action for protests may not be counted against students who have been accepted, and Pomp said that action eases her mind about any potential punishment.

Administrators at East Chapel Hill High sent an email to parents of students stating that students who participated in the walkout on Friday could face disciplinary action.
Credit Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Chapel Hill students involved in the CHC Enough group plan to rally at the state Legislature next. Pomp said, for her, this demonstration is just one step in a movement toward more gun control. 

 "Wherever I go I will try to find a way to work with organizations or bring students together to do things about this issue," she said. "I think that this is the beginning."