Chicago-Area Students Protest Gun Violence — Here’s What They’re Saying

Chicago-Area Students Protest Gun Violence — Here’s What They’re Saying

WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.

Students in Chicago and the suburbs walked out of class Wednesday as part of a student-led National School Walkout to protest gun violence.

About 100 schools primarily high schools but also some universities and middle schools — registered their walkout plans with national organizers, though the final tally is expected to be considerably higher.

The students shared their demands and stories of the walkout in real time on social media.

Press play above to hear WBEZ’s coverage of walkouts in two different communities — Niles West High School in north suburban Skokie and Plainfield North High School in the southwestern suburbs.

Max Freeman, a protest organizer at Oak Park and River Forest High School, told Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia prior to the march that participation in the #NationalSchoolWalkout is just the first step.

Some students spent the night sharing poster ideas and ways to bring gravitas to their message.

For those who didn’t make posters, their classmates brought extras to share.

Students in Plainfield and Crown Point, however, had a choice to make.

An ACLU attorney said if student demonstrations are “disruptive to the learning and education mission of the school” then school officials are within their rights to intervene. Kenwood Academy students and Whitney M. Young Magnet High School students took to Twitter and Instagram to remind #Enough and #MachForOurLives followers that the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs Board of Education was a direct result of student protests and walkouts.


A post shared by #neveragain (@wywalkout) on

Here’s a snapshot of the protests as they unfolded.

Just before 10 a.m., thousands of students around the Chicago area started to pour out of their classrooms, posters in hand.

Most had chants like the ones from Niles West, “We are students. We are victims. We are change.”

 'No more 'thoughts and prayers' we need CHANGE' is seen written on a poster outside Niles West High School. (Andrew Gill/WBEZ)

North Lawndale College Prep students recently traveled to Florida to talk with Parkland survivors. Today they wore red tape over their mouths with the names of the students who lost their lives.

Some students reported that Downer’s Grove North and South High Schools are among schools choosing not to allow students to participate in the walkout or are reprimanding them with Saturday detention. One student from Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences tweeted, “our school did not allow us to walk out, therefore, we created a sit in to remember the 17 lives lost at Parkland.”

Here’s the scene at St. Helen Catholic School in Chicago. Nina Aurelio, a 14 year-old eighth grader said, “In Parkland they lost 17 people but as a country we lost something else: security and protection of a school. It’s supposed to be an innocent place and I think we have to fight for it.”

Ahead of 17 minutes, 8th grader Nina Aurelio said student voices want “to pursue change.” She said she approached her teacher about the walkout after hearing about it on Snapchat. @WBEZ

— Paula Friedrich (@pauliebe) March 14, 2018
St. Helen's 4th through 8th graders participated with calls for peace. (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ)
A Hyde Park Academy student with a poster that reads:R.I.P. to the students and teachers who lost their lives on 2/14/18. (Sarah Karp/WBEZ)
A Hyde Park Academy student approaches her classmates lined out side the school. (Sarah Karp/WBEZ)
The sentiment of Plainfield students summed up by Dominick (left), a senior: “The kids are done.”

Not all students went outside. In Des Plaines, second graders drew pictures to show their support.

And there’s more to come.

Correction: This story originally reported a Twitter video’s origin from Chicago when in fact it was footage of a walkout in Detroit.