City Beat

Sacramento mayor encourages students to leave class Wednesday to protest gun violence

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg not only supports high school students walking out on Wednesday to protest gun violence. - he plans to join the students.

Steinberg called the planned National School Walkout "a vital part of (students') education." The mayor plans to take part in a protest at Hiram Johnson High School in south Sacramento. City schools Superintendent Jorge Aguilar and school board president Jessie Ryan are expected to be at Hiram Johnson as well.

The mayor said he would "march beside (the students), or maybe even behind them."

"Practicing peaceful political advocacy is an essential part of their education and to miss this opportunity would be nothing but a shame," the mayor said. "I think they have an opportunity to not only make a profound statement, but to activate more people towards a safer community and safer society."

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Students across the nation are planning to walk out of schools at 10 a.m. Wednesday in response to a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that claimed the lives of 17 people. A former student armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle has been charged in the crime.

Students from at least 30 schools in the Sacramento region are planning to march.

The Sacramento City Unified School District is planning organized events for the walkout, but has said that students who leave school grounds or remain outside of school for more than 17 minutes will be marked with an unexcused absence.

Steinberg suggested students should have freedom to protest as they see fit.

"We have to heartily support their peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights," the mayor said. "I look at this generation, their reaction to the Florida shooting, and I say, 'There's our hope.'"

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