More Than 1 Million Demonstrate
Students Determined to Be Heard and
Across the country in every state, more than one million people, mostly students, demonstrated to defend their rights and demand an end to violence in their schools and communities. Everywhere, students and teachers rejected plans for more police measures, such as armed police in the schools, more cameras, fences and metal detectors. Common slogans reflecting this stand included Art Not Artillery; Books not Bullets; Arm Teachers With Resources Not Guns; I Am a Teacher Not a Sharp Shooter; No Guns, Just Peace. Young women and girls made up the majority of the protesters and their determined spirit imbued the many actions.
Students also expressed opposition to police violence. Tribute was paid to those killed by police alongside the students and others who have died in various shootings. Demonstrations saw protesters using the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot motion to show their rejection of police killing of unarmed youth. The action emerged from the struggle in Ferguson and also symbolizes the demand for an end to racist police violence, especially against African American youth.
Protesters took their stand against the general militarization of schools and communities. Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, for example, is considering building a sniper tower and requiring all students to have see-through backpacks. Parkland students, who initiated the demonstrations, are publicly rejecting such measures and demanding more counselors, full funding, and no armed police or teachers in the schools.
Use of force and violence do not solve the social problems faced by the youth. As the demonstrations indicate, students are demanding a bright and safe future. Demilitarize Police for Peace in Our Streets; Automatic Weapons Are Only for Murdering People; Melt All the Guns; Don’t Kill Our Future; No Guns, No Nukes; No Weapons of War were among the signs expressing the demand to end violence both at home and abroad. There is growing consciousness of the connection between police violence and use of force at home with military violence abroad. Both serve to block the striving of youth everywhere for a bright future where their rights and the rights of all are guaranteed.
The students are contending with great efforts to narrow their fight and keep it contained to appealing to politicians for new legislation. Various politicians joined the demonstrations in an effort to take control — though many of them are responsible for police violence and criminalizing youth. New York politicians for example are notorious for defending Stop and Frisk measures against the youth, mass incarceration, police killings and police impunity. Both New York and California are considering measures to have armed police in every public school.
The students are not only rejecting such measures, they are insisting that their voice is heard and their solutions utilized. They are showing that security lies not with the politicians and police measures, but with continued organizing for rights. As signs put it: “If the opposite of pro is con, then the opposite of Progress is Congress.” And “We Are Students, We Are Change.” Keeping matters in their own hands, students are going forward with more walkouts and demonstrations planned for April 20.