Students: ‘This is what Democracy looks like!’

The chants and cheers could be heard throughout Downtown Boise:

“Go away! NRA!”

“Protect kids, not guns!”

“This is what democracy looks like!”

Hundreds of teens swarmed the Statehouse steps in Downtown Boise on Wednesday morning to join the 2018 Enough is Enough Student Walkout. Idaho students were part of a national walkout orchestrated to press adults to take action on school safety and gun violence in the wake of deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The students from a variety of Treasure Valley high schools carried signs and gave inspiring speeches and heartfelt pleas to an energized crowd that spilled into the streets, which were blocked from traffic by state troopers.

“I’m here to show support for people who have experienced gun violence,” said Monique Kitnikone, a senior from Eagle High.

Borah High’s Nick Cuelllar attended the event with a handful of classmates. “Schools need stronger security,” he said. “We need adults to stop guns from getting into schools.”

Borah High’s Mykahla Woolum said: “I’m so confused why some people are allowed to have guns in their possession. I should feel safe at school.”

The event began around 10 a.m., the same time as Idaho lawmakers started their floor debates inside the Statehouse. The Senate and House did not elect to recess to hear the student speeches, which lasted an hour. At one point during the assembly, the students laid down on the steps for 17 minutes to honor the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., one month ago.

Around 11 a.m., some of the students went inside the Statehouse where lawmakers continued to do their business.

The largest portion of students came from Boise High around 10:15 a.m. They walked from their school with a police motorcycle escort. Their arrival was greeted with enthusiastic cheers.

One student speaker at the Statehouse told the crowd his teacher said … “I would take a bullet for you and thank you for ditching my class today.”

Marcus Hernandez, a student from Sage International Charter, said he attended the walkout with his mother and sister to bring awareness to mental illness. “We need to put more funding into mental health — mental health matters,” Hernandez said.

Not all Idaho students went to the Statehouse to advocate for gun control and safer schools. Some held events and assembles on their own campuses.

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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