Young protesters marched out of classes at Sacramento-area elementary, middle and high schools, as well as universities, in solidarity with thousands of other students protesting gun violence in the National School Walkout.
Walkouts occurred across the region, from Davis to Fair Oaks. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined Hiram Johnson High School students marching, while state Attorney General Xavier Becerra was at C.K. McClatchy High School.
A student activism movement against gun violence has swept the nation after the Valentine's Day shooting that left 17 people dead and 17 more injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
The walkouts lasted 17 minutes as a nod to the fallen.
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Scenes from Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks
The Bee's Diana Lambert provided a live Facebook stream from Bella Vista High School this morning, as seen above. Bella Vista was the scene of one of the largest student demonstrations in the region today.
Bella Vista student leader John Lozo took over The Bee's Instagram account at our request this morning to provide images and video from the Fair Oaks campus. Hundreds of students participated in the walkout there, including senior Jermain Worthy, who spoke to his assembled classmates through a microphone.
"I know that in Fair Oaks, we don’t believe anything is going to happen to us,” Worthy said, choking back tears. "And that it wasn’t me that died, so why would I care? Why would I care about these little kids that keep getting shot? Why would I care about the death of someone that’s not me?"
"When are you going to care? Are you going to care when its right in your backyard? Is that when you decide to care, is that when it matters to you?"
Students across the region, from Dixon to Shingle Springs, walk out
The Bee has compiled images and video here from more than 15 schools from Dixon to Shingle Springs based on Snapchat video students posted this morning.
"Today we have stood up and said 'enough is enough'"
McClatchy High School in Sacramento drew much of the local media attention as one of the state's most powerful politicians — Attorney General Xavier Becerra — appeared as part of the student walkout event.
Before the 10 a.m. walkout, the school put 17 desks and chairs on display on the front steps to represent the 17 victims of the Parkland massacre.
About 500 McClatchy High School students walked out of class and held a 17-minute moment of silence. Supported by school leaders and political leaders, students said they no longer will tolerate a lack of action by lawmakers after mass shootings.
"There have been too many unnecessary deaths due to gun violence, and today we have stood up and said 'enough is enough,'" McClatchy student and walkout organizer Maya Steinhart said.
- Billy Kobin
'It shows we do have a voice'
Students at Sacramento’s Hiram Johnson High School quietly filed into an enclosed walkway, where 17 desks decorated with flowers, books and the names of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas victims were lined up in a straight line. The event felt more like a vigil than a protest, as students bowed their heads as the names of the shooting victims were read.
“This event is strictly for honoring the students (who died),” Hiram Johnson student body president Serena Rainer said. Mayor Darrell Steinberg, city schools Superintendent Jorge Aguilar, school board president Jessie Ryan and City Councilman Eric Guerra attended the event.
“A lot of our students feel that they don’t have a voice,” Rainer said. “The mayor is here, the superintendent is here. It shows that we do have a voice.” Steinberg closed his eyes as students spoke, bowing his head.
“What you’re doing here today, peacefully and with great dignity and with great strength, is saying with a collective voice: ‘No more victims, no more broken hearted communities and families,’” the mayor told the students. “And you know, tears are a good thing, emotion and passion is a good thing.”
Aguilar and school district officials had helped organize walkout events like the one at Hiram Johnson. Students who left campus or remained out of class for more than 17 minutes faced getting tagged with an unexcused absence.
When the 17 minutes were over, students filed back into their classrooms. None were seeing leaving campus. Many students hugged one another and posed for photographs with the mayor.
“It was our hope that it would be done in a safe matter and I think that’s what you’re seeing,” Aguilar said. “These 17 minutes were very special for our students.”
- Ryan Lillis
Davis High School students walk out for 17 minutes
At Davis High School, hundreds of students gathered outside during the walkout, according to student-run online publication The Hub.
Prior to the planned walkout, school officials said they would record students leaving class as an unexcused absence.
While "students are protected by First Amendment rights to free speech," they must also "abide by school rules," reads a guidance letter from Davis Joint Unified School District Superintendent John Bowes.
"Specifically for junior high and high school students, in accordance with DJUSD Secondary Standards for Student Behavior, students who participate in the student walkout (scheduled for March 14, 2018) will be marked as unexcused," the advisory reads. "An unexcused absence, in this case, will result in a phone call notification of the absence to the parent/guardian. For information regarding unexcused absence policy visit your school’s Student Handbook."
Moments before the walkout was set to begin, Sacramento lobbyist Erin Niemela got texts from two of her kids enrolled in Davis schools.
While one from her elementary school student informed her students were “doing a walkout,” the one from her high school junior was asking for permission, as school officials were threatening to record participating students as an unexcused absence.
Niemela said her daughter had her full permission to leave class for 17 minutes.
“I am proud of our kids for opposing gun violence and I’m proud of our kids exercising their free speech rights,” Niemela said.
Davis ranks 20th among California’s most liberal cities based on party registration. Niemela said that because student leaders informed school officials of the plan, the planned protest should have been treated more like an on-campus rally than a dangerous threat to student safety.
“It contradicts everything we’re teaching them. They are exercising their right to free speech. They are doing it in a peaceful way. It’s a textbook responsible exercise of free speech.”
District officials were not immediately available to comment.
- Ed Fletcher
Democratic lawmakers walk out of Capitol to protest gun violence
Nearly three dozen state legislators walked out of the Capitol and stood in silence to support the national walkout on Wednesday morning. Legislative employees and a group of students visiting Sacramento from Riverside joined the demonstration.
"We know that this is a movement that is really taking hold amongst the youth in our country and we wanted to show that we were in solidarity with them," said Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, who helped organize the Capitol event.
- Taryn Luna
Sylvan Middle School in Citrus Heights on brief lockdown
As students nationwide protest gun violence, Sylvan Middle School went on a brief lockdown after sounds of gunshots were reportedly near the Citrus Heights campus, according to police. That report was later deemed to be unfounded.
There were no injuries and kids are safe, Citrus Heights police reported at 10:36 a.m.
Granite Bay students walk out of class
The Granite Bay High School student publication Granite Bay Today reports a "tremendous amount of support" during the national walkout.
Students were holding signs, such as "There comes a time when silence is betrayal," and speaking through megaphones, based on pictures posted on Twitter.
300 appear outside NRA office on Capitol Mall
Winter Minisee, a student organizer for a Sacramento protest outside an NRA office on Capitol Mall, came all the way from Riverside to the capital city.
"It was the perfect place to be heard," she said.
Police have blocked roads around 555 Capitol Mall in preparation for the 10 a.m. protest.
- Anita Chabria
Hiram Johnson High School honors Parkland victims
Students at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento placed flowers, books and name placards on 17 desks to honor the victims of the Parkland shootings.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento City Unified Superintendent Jorge Aguilar are on hand for the walkout at Hiram Johnson.
- Ryan Lillis