Students who left class today to join the 17-minute long national protest against gun violence who attend a high school in Concord, California, in the San Francisco Bay area, found the gates locked when they tried to reach the street.
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So the determined Mt. Diablo High students broke the iron gates open at just after 10 a.m. and spilled out onto Grant Street shouting “enough is enough,” with some waving signs with messages protesting gun violence.
School administrators were right behind them and soon herded the students back to the school and to their classes, using a threat to call their parents.
Mount Diablo High School administrators in Concord, California, tried to lock students indoors to keep them participating in #NationalWalkoutDay. Kids broke out anyway, and the admin threatened to call their parents. https://t.co/0YFm6GpQnz
— Kat 4 Obama (@Kat4Obama) March 14, 2018
Lorne Barbosa, the principal of the high school, told the San Jose Mercury News that while she did not oppose students participating in protests, the student government had decided in advance not to do a walkout, so when the students left it was a surprise to them.
Barbosa said that they were concerned parents might not want students leaving campus.
The school made an announcement at 10 a.m. to honor the 17 students and faculty murdered on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Florida, but many students felt that it was not enough.
An unidentified student told Mercury News that she wanted to be part of the national protest after seeing how gun violence had impacted schools all over the country.
“We though gun control is a big issue in this country,” said the girl. “We don’t want our school to be the next one.”
Sophmore Lila Souza, who had worked to organize the protest, said they just wanted to support the nationwide protest.
Souza said she did not expect students would break down the gate, which they were surprised to find locked when they got to it.
She said it was a disappointment that the protest took that turn because it was always intended to be a peaceful march, rather than anything that could cause destruction.
Souza said her hope is that lawmakers will hear the students’ pleas and pass background checks and other controls over who can access firearms, as well as requiring buyers to have proper training and instruction before they can purchase a weapon.
Disappointed in the Mount Diablo Unified School District (#MDUSD) for not supporting Mt. Diablo High's staff and #students today. Their decision to participate in today's activism for #NationalWalkoutDay should be encouraged, not barred. Please do better. https://t.co/2Meot7sc2c
— Kay M. Contreras (@KayMContreras) March 14, 2018
Across the San Francisco Bay area, there was a mixed response to the call for protests.
Some schools warned students there would be consequences if they missed classes, while others worked out ways for students to protest safely near the school.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provide an online guide to students to make them aware of their rights.
The ACLU told them that they could be disciplined for missing classes, but legally the penalty could not be more severe because of specifically partaking in the protest.
“Students are leading the way and showing us just how much is possible when we’re not afraid to fight for our safety, our rights, and our future,” Faiz Shakir, national political director of the ACLU wrote in the online message.
“We all need to use our voice and our rights,” added Shakir, “because that is what makes change.”
It is unlikely the NRA or its hardcore members will change their minds. The point of the protest, however, is to make lawmakers think about what needs to be done and urge apathetic adults to consider the need for sensible gun laws.