March 14, 2018 03:01 PM
Students at dozens of schools throughout Minnesota held walkouts and rallies Wednesday, in response to a recent Florida school shooting.
Many walkouts began at 10 a.m. Wednesday, exactly one month after a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Demonstrations nationwide were expected to last 17 minutes, or a minute for every student and staff member killed during the Florida school shooting.
At Harding High School in St. Paul, several hundred students gathered outside on the sidewalk.
Moments before the walkout, school administrators announced that no students would be disciplined for participating. The only condition was that the students stay on school property during the 17 minutes.
While some students admitted they didn't know what action they wanted to see, others had specific requests for lawmakers.
"We understand the second amendment and all, but we're just asking for more background checks," Hodan Hassan, a junior, said. "We're sick of this. We're sick of normalizing school shootings."
Another student dismissed the proposal of arming teachers with guns.
"If we have more guns, it's causing more problems and I'd feel less safe with teachers having guns," she said. "We just need more counselors and more help with the students."
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter was in attendance, as students chanted, held signs and wore T-shirts they had made for the event.
"It's tragic that our young people have to be thinking about this right now," Carter said. "I wish they didn't, but I'm glad they are."
Meanwhile, in Wayzata, students carried signs stating, "I am walking out because" and filled in their reasons. "I am walking out because we deserve to feel safe in school," "I am walking out because all students should feel safe," "I am walking out because we are more than a statistic," were some of the messages on student signs.
Although many Minnesota walkouts were scheduled for schools in the Twin Cities, schools in all parts of the state, from Bemidji to Winona, planned to participate. Walkouts were also planned at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall and University of Minnesota Duluth.
Superintendent Ed Graff says Minneapolis Public Schools will not discipline students as long as the protest remains peaceful.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Stay with KSTP.com and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS for the latest on student walkouts.
Rebecca Omastiak & Tyler Berg
Updated: March 14, 2018 03:01 PM
Created: March 14, 2018 10:56 AM
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