NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Organizers are calling for students to walk out of their classes Monday at 10:13 a.m. and head to the Capitol for action on gun violence in Tennessee, though school officials in Nashville are urging students to remain safe in their schools instead.
March for Our Lives, a nonprofit group advocating for action on gun violence formed after the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, has called for Nashville students to walk out of their classrooms to “demand gun safety” of their legislators Monday, April 3.
“It’s not drag queens, it’s not books, it’s not Black history, it’s not trans rights—GUNS are KILLING KIDS,” the group said on Twitter in calling for the walk out. “Nashville: JOIN US and #WalkOut of class and to the state capitol to demand gun safety on MONDAY, APRIL 3 at 10:13 AM.”
Tennessee Students Demand Action, a statewide chapter of the national gun safety nonprofit Students Demand Action, announced the group will be joining in the march Monday morning, leaving their classrooms around 10 a.m. in order to walk to the rally planned at the Capitol, which will take place from 10:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“At some point, I might have to take a bullet for one of my students which is just ridiculous that we’re at that point in society, that they are 19, 20 years old and having to think about that part of their job,” said Jayce Pollard, a Vanderbilt University Student, planning to attend the walk-out. “Teachers have been going at it for a time, and obviously, lawmakers have not responded to solve the problem. So, I think now is really a time that students are going to have to be involved, and this has to be our fight.”
Monday’s events will be the second rally and protest planned following the deadly shooting at the Covenant School, which saw three elementary school children and three adults gunned down by a 28-year-old shooter.
“I just remember thinking this is crazy, and this is just messed up on so many levels,” said Pollard.
Thursday morning thousands of parents, students, children and more gathered around the Capitol building in a grassroots rally demanding action from Tennessee lawmakers. Legislators have introduced dozens of gun bills this session, including a bill that would allow private schools like The Covenant School to contract with local law enforcement agencies for school resource officers that was passed by the General Assembly but not yet signed by Gov. Bill Lee.
“I think it’s time for pressure, and I have total hope in these young generations of Americans that are ready to make things happen. When they want something, they get together. I don’t recommend you fighting them back,” said Manuel Oliver, who lost his son in the Parkland, Florida, shooting in 2018. Now, he is now headed to Nashville.
But Metro Nashville Schools are urging students not to walk out of their schools and travel to the Capitol. Instead, they are asking students to stage a “walk-in” and rally within their high schools.
“I understand and share the frustration, anger, and fears that many of our students, staff, and families have expressed in recent days over the latest and closest in a long line of school shootings and the lack of meaningful action by lawmakers to address the epidemic of gun violence in our society,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Schools. “Our team has worked closely with student leaders, including our student Board members Abenezer Haile and Alayna Mitchell, to develop a plan of action that would meet the desire of students to voice their concerns while keeping student safety top of mind.”
Each Metro high school will have a walk-in rally where students will be able to discuss their concerns, petition their representatives, and participate in activities meant to honor and remember the victims of The Covenant School shooting and those who were killed in past mass shooting events throughout the country, according to Metro Schools Spokesperson Sean Braisted.
The walk-in rallies will last for one hour beginning at 10:13 a.m., the time when Metro Police first received calls of an active shooter at Covenant.
MNPS is also encouraging any staff and students in all tiers who want to participate in some form to wear red on Monday in honor of the victims of The Covenant School Shooting.
MNPS said while some organizations are encouraging students to continue to walk out of school and to the Capitol, this action constitutes a significant safety concern for students as well as a violation of the MNPS Code of Conduct and presents an equity issue for students throughout Davidson County who would not be able to join their peers in participating in an action in support of change.
“We ask that parents encourage their students to remain in school and join the walk-in rallies,” Braisted said.