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For The Second Time, San Diego Students Walk Out Against Gun Violence

April 20, 2018 1:35 p.m.

For The Second Time, San Diego Students Walk Out Against Gun Violence


Megan Burks, education reporter, KPBS News

Related Story: For The Second Time, San Diego Students Walk Out Against Gun Violence


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh in its Friday, April 20 our top story, the student walkouts against gun violence this morning in San Diego and across the country took on a special poignancy because of today's date. April 20 is the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine high school in Colorado the massacre took 15 lives including the shooters and seemed to begin a string of shootings, lockdowns and heightened security measures in schools. Megan Burks talk to students that El Camino high school getting ready for today's walkout.
>> What kinds of activities besides walking out of class did they plan.
>> The students have been demonstrating every Friday morning before school since March 2. Eight weeks straight they stand on a lawn near the school and wave signs and chant and try to get passersby to honk.
>> At least a dozen said -- San Diego high schools took part in today's walkout. Is there any kind of resistance to the walkouts from the school administration or maybe from law enforcement?
>> It's a district by district, school by school decision. Students cannot be too harshly punished but some schools did have students who tried to leave campus unsupervised go to lunchtime detention and other districts and principles have made it clear that students have a right to express themselves, they just want them to do it safely. We did get a statement from the sheriff's office saying that if your school is participating in a walkout, we want you to let us know so we can ensure safety. That seems to be the biggest responses.
>> Is there a specific goal the students are hoping to achieve when it comes to gun reform? Or is the aim vague?
>> I think there are specific goals. All of the students I have spoken to seem to align themselves with the goals of the nationwide walkout on March 14. Very specific regulations at the national level. I spoke with one student.
>> We are hoping to raise more awareness for guns, not necessarily get rid of them. We want more reform on them and have strict background checks and raise the minimum age especially because in California students are only worth one cents to legislators.
>> They said their goal is persistence the youth want to stand up and say we are not going away.
>> The first school walkout for gun reform was centered around the shooting in Parkland, Florida. This one also encompassed the anniversary of Columbine that happened a generation ago. Did the students talk about connections, thinking about the connections between the two events?
>> Not today when I was in El Camino but I've been speaking to a lot of students and they have said that this is their issue to own because people who are seniors now were born in 98, 99, 2000. They have been the generation where all they've known is school lockdowns and drills. They have reflected on that sense to say this is defined her childhood and we want to fix it.
>> In fact you, Megan, have memories of how your school experience changed.
>> I went to school here in San Diego County and I recall distinctly remembering coming back to my middle school after the shooting and I don't know if it was a day later or several months later because it was spring or summer break but I remember there was a 15 foot tall chain-link fence erected immediately. That was very -- that the strong memory in my mind. Also, going to school in East County at the time of the Santana shooting. At that time they started to do the drills and bring supplies into the classroom in case students would be locked down in the classroom for a while. Every classroom had these bright orange pails that students would use to relieve themselves if they were stuck in the classroom. To this day whenever I walk into a classroom my eye catches it, it's bright orange.
>> This is the reality all of the students have been living with since they started school. Are there any further walkouts or group actions planned by students around this issue?
>> I'm not aware of any major plans at this point that everybody I've been talking to has said that the next thing is to vote. To try to influence their parents votes or make sure that the people who are seniors and are 18 now go out and vote.
>> I've been speaking with Megan Burks. Thank you.