Adults: It’s your move, students say after historic walkouts


Lydia McGeehan, center, 16, of Sheraden joins her fellow Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School students to form a chain around their school to mark the one month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., shooting, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The students stood in silence for 17 minutes to mark the 17 students and faculty killed in the massacre. (Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Lydia McGeehan, center, 16, of Sheraden joins her fellow Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School students to form a chain around their school to mark the one month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., shooting, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The students stood in silence for 17 minutes to mark the 17 students and faculty killed in the massacre. (Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)


High school students in Astoria, Ore., hold up signs during a walkout Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Students across Oregon left class Wednesday to join a call by young activists for stricter gun laws. (Colin Murphey/Daily Astorian via AP)


Eighth grader Judith Aragon, 14, releases a balloon to commemorate 1 of the 17 victims from the Parkland Fla., school shooting at Ortiz Middle School Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Santa Fe, N.M. Members of Ortiz's Natural Helpers and Student Wellness Action Team organized the tribute and the walkout for the school. Many students in Santa Fe walked out in memory of the Florida victims and to push for stricter gun laws. (Gabriela Campos/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)


By COLLIN BINKLEY

Associated Press

They bowed their heads in honor of the dead. They carried signs with messages like “Never again” and “Am I next?” They railed against the National Rifle Association and the politicians who support it.

And over and over, they repeated the message: Enough is enough.

In a wave of protests one historian called the largest of its kind in American history, tens of thousands of students walked out of their classrooms Wednesday to demand action on gun violence and school safety.

The demonstrations extended from Maine to Hawaii as students joined the youth-led surge of activism set off by the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“We’re sick of it,” said Maxwell Nardi, a senior at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico, Virginia, just outside Richmond. “We’re going to keep fighting, and we’re not going to stop until Congress finally makes resolute changes.”

Students around the nation left class at 10 a.m. local time for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in the Florida shooting. Some led marches or rallied on football fields, while others gathered in school gyms or took a knee in the hallway.

At some schools, hundreds of students poured out. At others, just one or two walked out in defiance of administrators.

They lamented that too many young people have died and that they’re tired of going to school afraid they will be killed.

“Enough is enough. People are done with being shot,” said Iris Fosse-Ober, 18, a senior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis.

In joining the protests, the students followed the example set by many of the survivors of the Florida shooting, who have become gun-control activists, leading rallies, lobbying legislators and giving TV interviews. Their efforts helped spur passage last week of a Florida law curbing access to assault rifles by young people.

Another protest against gun violence is scheduled in Washington on March 24, with organizers saying it is expected to draw hundreds of thousands.

But whether the students can make a difference on Capitol Hill remains to be seen.

Some students have issued specific demands for lawmakers, including mandatory background checks for all gun sales and a ban on assault weapons like the one used in the Florida bloodbath.

While administrators and teachers at some schools applauded students for taking a stand — and some joined them — others threatened punishment for missing class.

As the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photo on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with an American flag. The caption: “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

The protests took place at schools from the elementary level through college, including some that have witnessed their own mass shootings: About 300 students gathered on a soccer field at Colorado’s Columbine High, while students who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012 marched out of Newtown High School in Connecticut.

In the nation’s capital, more than 2,000 high-school age protesters observed 17 minutes of silence while sitting on the ground with their backs turned to the White House. President Donald Trump was out of town.

The students carried signs with messages such as “Our Blood/Your Hands” and “Never Again” and chanted slogans against the NRA.

In New York City, they chanted, “Enough is enough!” In Salt Lake City, the signs read, “Protect kids not guns,” ”Fear has no place in school” and “Am I next?”

At Eagle Rock High in Los Angeles, teenagers took a moment of silence as they gathered around a circle of 17 chairs labeled with the names of the Florida victims.

Stoneman Douglas High senior David Hogg, who has emerged as one of the leading student activists, live-streamed the walkout at the tragedy-stricken school on his YouTube channel. He said students couldn’t be expected to stay in class while there was work to do to prevent gun violence.

“Every one of these individuals could have died that day. I could have died that day,” he said.

Congress has shown little inclination to defy the powerful NRA and tighten gun laws, and Trump backed away from his initial support for raising the minimum age for buying an assault rifle to 21.

A spokeswoman for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, newly appointed head of a federal panel on school safety, said DeVos “gives a lot credit to the students who are raising their voices and demanding change,” and “their input will be valuable.”

David Farber, a history professor at the University of Kansas who has studied social change movements, said it is too soon to know what effect the protests will have. But he said Wednesday’s walkouts were without a doubt the largest protest led by high school students in the history of the U.S.

“Young people are that social media generation, and it’s easy to mobilize them in a way that it probably hadn’t been even 10 years ago,” Farber said.

Wednesday’s (March 14) coordinated protests were loosely organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March, which brought thousands to Washington last year. The group announced the time and focus on social media, and provided a space where any school’s students could announce their plans.

At Aztec High School in a rural, gun-friendly part of New Mexico where many enjoy hunting and shooting, students avoided gun politics and opted for a ceremony honoring students killed in shootings — including two who died in a December attack at Aztec.

“Our kids sit on both ends of the spectrum, and we have a diverse community when it comes to gun rights and gun control,” Principal Warman Hall said.

In Brimfield, Ohio, 12-year-old Olivia Shane, an avid competitive trap shooter who has owned her own guns since she was about 7, skipped the gun protest and memorial held at her school.

“People want to take away our guns and it’s a Second Amendment right of ours,” she said. “If they want to take away our Second Amendment right, why can’t we take away their amendment of freedom of speech?”

About 10 students left Ohio’s West Liberty-Salem High School — which witnessed a shooting last year — despite a warning they could face detention or more serious discipline.

Police in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta patrolled Kell High, where students were threatened with unspecified consequences if they participated. Three students walked out anyway.

The walkouts drew support from companies such as media conglomerate Viacom, which paused programming on MTV, BET, Nickelodeon and its other networks for 17 minutes during the walkouts.

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Maria Danilova in Washington; Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Jonathan Drew in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Mike Householder in Detroit; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston; Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Follow Binkley on Twitter at cbinkley

Find all of AP’s coverage on the walkouts and the Parkland, Florida, shooting at https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting

There are 119 Republican House members who should be VERY nervous today

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

March 14, 2018

Message for Republicans? ‘The House is on fire’

Washington (CNN) — It’s easy — and understandable — to focus on whether or not Conor Lamb is going to wind up with more votes than Rick Saccone when all the ballots are counted from Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania.

But the focus on the “W” sort of misses the point. And that point is this: This southwestern Pennsylvania district should have never been competitive — or even close to competitive. This is not a swing district. It is not even a Republican-leaning district. It is, based on past presidential performance and congressional level results, a comfortably Republican seat.

And if comfortably Republican seats like Pennsylvania’s 18th are competitive in this sort of national environment — an unpopular president in the White House, Democratic base voters fired up over the prospect of sending Donald Trump a message — then there are a whole lot of GOP members of Congress who need to start worrying this morning.

One way to measure — and I think the best way to measure — just how titanic Lamb’s apparent victory is (and what it means for the fight for the House going forward) is to look at how many other seats Republicans currently hold that have similar or less GOP-friendly profiles than Pennsylvania’s 18th.

Which brings me to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index or PVI. The goal of the PVI is to compare every congressional district to every other congressional district based on how it has performed in each of the last two presidential elections.

So, in the case of PA-18, it has a PVI of R+11, meaning that in the last two presidential elections it has performed 11 points more Republican than the nation as a whole.

‘It’s not over yet:’ Nail-biter Pennsylvania special election heads into 2nd day

That PVI score makes Pennsylvania’s 18th district the 124th-most Republican district in the country. (The most Republican district in the country is Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry’s 13th, with a PVI rating of R+33.)

Here’s where things get very, very scary for Republicans: According to the latest edition of the Cook PVI ratings, which are based on the 115th Congress, there are 119 seats currently held by Republicans that have PVI scores of R+11 or lower.

One hundred nineteen! That’s exactly half of the 238 seats Republicans currently hold — HALF. It’s far beyond the 23 seats that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 that are currently represented by a Republican. It’s roughly five times as many seats as Democrats would need to pick up — 23 assuming Lamb wins — to retake the House majority come November. And it’s well more than the 74 seats that the Cook Report ranks as marginally competitive as of today.

Now, simply because a district looks similar to Pennsylvania’s 18th based on presidential performance doesn’t mean that each of these 119 seats will be in play this fall. This race had unique circumstances — from the resignation of Rep. Tim Murphy (R) amid a sex scandal to the insider nomination processes that produced the skilled and telegenic Lamb and the far less skilled and telegenic Saccone.

But for Republicans to dismiss Pennsylvania’s 18th district as an anomaly is to miss the forest for the trees. No matter how bad a candidate Saccone was, he was a non-scandal plagued, GOP lawmaker running in a reliably Republican seat. He wins if the national political environment is neutral or even if it is tipped only moderately toward Democrats.

That he appears to have lost should put every one of the 119 Republicans who sit in districts as bad or worse than PA-18 on high alert. It sure as hell looks like there is a wave building out in the country. And they need to batten down the hatches now in hopes of surviving it.

Lydia McGeehan, center, 16, of Sheraden joins her fellow Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School students to form a chain around their school to mark the one month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., shooting, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The students stood in silence for 17 minutes to mark the 17 students and faculty killed in the massacre. (Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/03/web1_120081308-1b358e05c61046a0a8aef598562075c8.jpgLydia McGeehan, center, 16, of Sheraden joins her fellow Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School students to form a chain around their school to mark the one month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., shooting, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The students stood in silence for 17 minutes to mark the 17 students and faculty killed in the massacre. (Stephanie Strasburg/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

High school students in Astoria, Ore., hold up signs during a walkout Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Students across Oregon left class Wednesday to join a call by young activists for stricter gun laws. (Colin Murphey/Daily Astorian via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/03/web1_120081308-3d09d202aede498f9c173d0442d28569.jpgHigh school students in Astoria, Ore., hold up signs during a walkout Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Students across Oregon left class Wednesday to join a call by young activists for stricter gun laws. (Colin Murphey/Daily Astorian via AP)

Eighth grader Judith Aragon, 14, releases a balloon to commemorate 1 of the 17 victims from the Parkland Fla., school shooting at Ortiz Middle School Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Santa Fe, N.M. Members of Ortiz’s Natural Helpers and Student Wellness Action Team organized the tribute and the walkout for the school. Many students in Santa Fe walked out in memory of the Florida victims and to push for stricter gun laws. (Gabriela Campos/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/03/web1_120081308-74ea9d30b3424773a98c44247c790d95.jpgEighth grader Judith Aragon, 14, releases a balloon to commemorate 1 of the 17 victims from the Parkland Fla., school shooting at Ortiz Middle School Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Santa Fe, N.M. Members of Ortiz’s Natural Helpers and Student Wellness Action Team organized the tribute and the walkout for the school. Many students in Santa Fe walked out in memory of the Florida victims and to push for stricter gun laws. (Gabriela Campos/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)