At 10 AM on Wednesday, March 14, students at thousands of schools across the country participated in a national walkout, with the tagline “Enough is Enough.” The goal of the 17 – minute demonstration was twofold: to honor the lives lost in the school massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and to demand gun control legislation that will make them safe.
At East Hampton High School hundreds of students walked out, forming a huge and sober circle in the parking lot, some teens holding signs with the names of those whose lives were claimed by the gunman in Florida one month ago.
School officials refused to allow adults on EHHS grounds, “for safety reasons.” A contingent of adults, including East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, gathered on the side of Long Lane. “I’m here to show support and solidarity with the students of this nation who should be able to go to school without fear, and to impress upon the federal government – especially Congress –to get off the dime,” he said, adding, “I see no reason why a private individual should have military style weapons in this country.”
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby was also part of the roadside contingent. “I’m here because I care about the safety of kids and I want to be able to go to a concert and not have to worry, to walk into a mall and somebody gets shot. That should not be my concern in a free society.”
With adults prohibited from entering school grounds, the kids came to the street. They formed a circle and stood quietly facing one another. After a moment, they turned to face the adults whose cheers and shouts of support broke the sunny winter’s morning silence.
Carrying a protest sign, 17-year-old Gianna Gregorio knelt facing the street. “The only thing easier to buy than a gun is a GOP candidate,” she quipped. On one side, her placard said, “Ok, you’re telling me you can grab your AR-15 fast enough to shoot invaders, but also that it’s child proof?”
On the poster’s other side, Gregorio formed two lists. On one side it said, “What will prevent shootings” and listed better background checks, ending the gun show loophole, banning bump stocks, and preventing domestic abusers owning guns.
In counterpart, the poster offered, “What won’t prevent them: your thoughts and prayers, arming teachers.” Gregorio will vote for the first time this November.
Student Gina Gonzalez explained: “We are here because, just because we live in East Hampton doesn’t mean this can’t happen to us and doesn’t effect us and because we want to stand up for our fellow students. This can’t happen anymore. “
“I think everyone feels very empowered today. We didn’t expect this kind of turnout. Half of our school, maybe,” Julia Short said.
Asked what’s next, students reported plans for a trip to Washington DC to participate in a march on the 24th.
As they formed up for the march back into school, Deb Foster, a former town councilwoman and Springs School teacher hollered after the protestors, “We have hope for the next generation.”
At Pierson, close to 200 students participated in the Sag Harbor walkout, gathering beneath the flagpole outside the building.