Students Across RI Walk Out Of Classes, Demanding Stricter Gun Control

Mar 14, 2018

Across the nation, students walked out of their classes Wednesday, imploring lawmakers to take action on gun control. 

Groups of students in Rhode Island and the South Coast also took part in the protests.

At around 10 a.m. students at Toll Gate High School left their classrooms, marking one month since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff died in that shooting.

At Toll Gate High School, several hundred of the school’s 1200 students gathered at a courtyard inside the school, surrounded by teachers and other staff.

Similar walkouts were planned around the region, including in Barrington, Coventry and North Kingstown.

At Cumberland High School, junior Emily Lamoureux organized one of the walkouts. She said the goals include a recognition of the students killed in Parkland.

"The first is to memorialize the students that have already passed away," Lamoureux said. "And the second is to work as a community, and overall as a nation, to try and prevent future shootings. This is a problem that needs awareness and it is time that students and teenagers speak up and try to bring an end to the violence."

Lamoureux said students will discuss steps they think should be taken to reduce gun violence.

A sign held by a protester at the demonstrations in front of the Rhode Island Statehouse.
Credit John Bender / RIPR

In Providence, hundreds of students walked out of classes and marched to the steps of the Rhode Island Statehouse. Students from a mix of private and public schools in the area chanted and cheered in front of the building.

“I think people are angry, and they’re going to stay angry, and we’re going to keep pushing,” said Grace Collins, a senior at Classical High School in Providence. “I think in the past, movements have died out a little bit. But I think now we’re ready to see this through until it’s finished.”

Julia Keizler, a fellow student at Classical High School in Providence, said she felt it was up to lawmakers to keep schools safer.

“As a student it’s always in the back of our minds, whenever we have lockdown drills, whenever we have safety discussions, this could be us,” said Keizler. “It can happen to anyone.”

Julia Keizler, a senior at Classical High School, holds a sign as part of the protests Wednesday.
Credit John Bender / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo was slated to join the students and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence for rally at the Statehouse after the student demonstrations.

More than 20 gun-related bills have been introduced in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. Some are expected to pass, including a 'red flag' measure meant to identify potentially dangerous people and remove guns from their possession. The outlook on other measures, like a proposed ban on weapons like the AR-15 used in the Parkland shooting, is less clear.

Students standing in front of the RI Statehouse during Wednesday's protest
Credit John Bender / RIPR