Students of eStem High School joined students across the country in an organized walkout Wednesday morning, honoring the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting in Parkland, Fla. and protesting for stricter gun laws in the U.S.
At 10 a.m., eStem students and teachers walked across UA Little Rock’s campus, returning to classrooms by 10:17–a minute outside for each person killed in the shooting.
“I’m out here to respect those victims of the school shootings, because, since Columbine, nothing has been changed and, you know, thoughts and prayers aren’t going to change anything,” said a junior at eStem High School.
Much like Hall High School in Little Rock, eStem’s administration organized the walkout. The school’s weekly newsletter steers clear of politics, referring to the event not as a protest but as “an effort to show our solidarity with other schools around the nation, as we all mourn with the families affected by the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.”
For many students across the country, the walkout was indeed political. The event’s official Facebook page specifies that the intention was “to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.“
EStem itself has been involved in a dispute related to guns and campus safety. In 2017, when the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law that would allow the concealed-carry of firearms at public universities like UA Little Rock, CEO John Bacon promised to create a gun-free zone around the high school.
“It is a bad idea, in my opinion,” one eStem student said of the concealed-carry policy.
More events related to gun violence are scheduled to take place across the country. In solidarity with the March for Our Lives movement, organizers have planned a demonstration at the Capitol Building in Little Rock on March 24, and National School Walkout has scheduled another protest for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.