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Osceola students protest gun violence

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 9:40 am

By Rachel Christian
Staff Writer
Students across Osceola County staged peaceful school walk-outs Wednesday afternoon to show solidarity for students killed in a South Florida shooting last week.
Students from at least eight Osceola County schools – including Osceola High School, St. Cloud Middle School and Poinciana High School – strolled out of classrooms Feb. 21, exactly one week after a shooter gunned down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman

Photo/ Zamaiya Marquez
Students protest gun violence at Poinciana High School Wednesday. The protests were part of a larger movement across the county in response to the school shooting in South Florida.

Douglas High School in Parkland.
Those shootings have sparked a nationwide outcry and debate about guns and school safety. The local walk-outs took place on the same day Marjory Douglas students traveled to Tallahassee to demand gun law reform from legislatures.
The local protests lasted about 17 minutes – a minute for each life lost.
Officials with the Osceola County School District said the students will not face disciplinary action since the protest was peaceful.
Students coordinated with school administrators to stage the walk-outs, which were promoted by students via social media, district officials said.
Some parents complained that students weren’t properly educated about the purpose of the walk-out before it took place.
“My daughter thought it was to honor the fallen students,” said St. Cloud resident Angie Redman. “When she found out it was about guns, she decided to walk back in.”
Redman’s daughter attends St. Cloud Middle School, and grew up around skeet shooting and hunting with guns.
Still, Redman said she was pleased with security measures implemented while the protest took place.
“The police and faculty were present and surrounding our children,” she said. “To me, they where protecting them to their best abilities.”
Walk-outs across the nation were spurred by Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, who traveled alongside Pulse Nightclub shooting survivors to the Florida Statehouse Wednesday.
Florida House Representative John Cortes (D-Kissimmee) said the gun violence survivors “made quite a show” behind the old state capital building in Tallahassee.
“I’ve never seen so many people in the square before,” he said. “It was an awesome thing to see.”
Cortes described the Parkland students as “a generation that isn’t backing down” with “fire in their eyes.” The representative also detailed a sit-in students staged outside Republican offices where they demanded answers on gun legislation and reform.
“No one came out to answer them,” Cortes said.
The rally came one day after Florida lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected — along party lines in the heavily GOP Statehouse — a bill that would have banned many semiautomatic rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz – whose district includes Parkland, Florida – told NPR News Monday that he thinks gun control legislation may still stand a better chance in Tallahassee because the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took place during an active legislative session.
“We have a unique opportunity,” Moskowitz told NPR. “Pulse did not happen during session. And they didn’t want to come back into session after Pulse.”
Cortes agreed with his fellow representative. March 9 marks the end of the state session, giving lawmakers just under two weeks to make a move.
“I hope they do something,” Cortes said. “Something needs to happen. Some kind of real change.”