At 10am, students across the country left their classrooms and took to hallways, gymnasiums, streets, and fields in an act of protest and to honor the 17 people who died at the hands of a gunman last month in Parkland, Florida. An organizer of the nationwide initiative told NBC that some 185,000 in 50 states and from about 3,100 schools were expected to participate, and throughout the day, Twitter has been on fire with images and commentary about the event.
Despite much debate about the age-appropriateness of the walkout, students of all ages participated. In Alexandria, Virginia, an elementary school event saw some 65 kids take to the streets holding signs:
At a protest in New York, elementary school-aged kids sang “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”:
Students at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta were threatened with severe punishment if they took part in the walkout, so instead, dozens of students took a knee in the hallway to participate in the moment.
In solidarity with the protesters, the children’s network Nickelodeon went off the air for 17 minutes today.
Meanwhile, the NRA, ever the epitome of tact and sensitivity, tweeted a photo of an AR15 rifle — the weapon of choice for mass shootings — as protests took place across the nation.
In what has to be the cutest interaction of the day, Brooklyn high school and middle school students erupted in cheers of encouragement as a flock of protesting elementary school students passed by:
In Chicago, a student at Kenwood Academy was detained by police. It is still unclear why:
At the NAACP’s head office, workers held a sit-in to honor the protests taking place across the country.
In England, students at the American School in London joined the protest from afar, leaving class and congregating outside the building in central London.
There were also many parents angered by what they saw as pressure from the administration to participate in a very political act of protest:
Including, weirdly, Antonio Sabáto Jr., who is apparently running for Congress:
And in Parkland, Florida, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School streamed out onto the school’s track field, exactly one month after 17 of their classmates and faculty were killed by a teenager armed with an MR15 rifle.
At Columbine High School, the walkout lasted for 30 minutes — 17 minutes for the Florida victims, and 13 minutes for the victims gunned down at their own school back in 1999. As the minutes passed, students released a balloon for each of individuals being honored.
Several observers who were attending high school at the time of the Columbine Massacre looked back with regret at their inaction:
In light of the 19 years that have passed since that tragic incident, the words carved into the Columbine memorial are particularly poignant:
Here’s to hoping that the men and women in power learn something from the incredible power and solidarity displayed this morning by some of the country’s youngest citizens. Today, the future looks hopeful.
(Photo via Scott Olson/Getty)