Chapel Hill and Carrboro students are preparing to join a nationwide school walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence and call on lawmakers to do more to promote school safety.
The walkout comes in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month which left 17 students, teachers and faculty members dead.
The organization behind the national walkout is called EMPOWER, and according to their website nearly 3,000 walkouts will be taking place across the country.
East Chapel Hill High student organizer Max Poteat says their demands are simple: fewer guns in schools and keeping guns out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.
“Our main goal is to enforce universal background checks and hold those standards to everybody,” said Poteat. “And our main goal out of this is to say that we shouldn’t create more fear and place more guns in our schools.”
The latter is in response to President Donald Trump’s suggestion that trained teachers should be given bonuses to carry guns while in schools.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro students have raised enough money, roughly $12,000, to provide every high school student and faculty member with an orange t-shirt with the #enough slogan on it, should they wish to join in the walkout.
Those participating will then stand in a secluded area for 17 minutes, to honor the 17 victims of the deadly shooting, and then thank any government officials that have offered their support and call for action from those who haven’t.
Chapel Hill High student organizer Caitlin Grubbs says that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student’s use of social media to share their stories and experiences helped to spark the enormous show of support from students nationwide.
“Just seeing some of the videos that the kids posted and the pictures and just the effects of that really impacted us,” said Grubbs. “With Sandy Hook, the elementary kids didn’t have phones, and they didn’t post anything about it, but the high school kids really visually showed it more than the other ones.”
East Chapel Hill High’s Zac Johnson knows that the work is not finished after the walkout.
“I know that throughout the nation there will be other protests and walkouts organized throughout the school year, so we’d hopefully participate in those as well,” said Johnson. “Recently, at East Chapel Hill I know, we’ve been registering students to vote and making sure students write letters to their representatives.”
To get involved or to donate, visit enoughchc.org.