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

Students at El Camino High School in Oceanside protest outside the school, Ap...

Photo by Megan Burks

Above: Students at El Camino High School in Oceanside protest outside the school, April 20, 2018.

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


Megan Burks, education reporter, KPBS News


Students from at least a dozen San Diego County schools walked out of class Friday for the second time in just over a month to protest gun violence and urge politicians to better protect campuses.

The first protest last month came on the one-month anniversary of a shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Friday's was planned for the 19-year anniversary of the shooting that killed 15 people, including the gunmen, at Columbine High School in Colorado.

The Columbine shooting is generally considered the start of modern-day school massacres, and since April 20, 1999, there have been three deadlier shootings on campuses: the one that killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that killed 20 young children and six adults, and the Feb. 14 shooting this year in Parkland.

In an editorial Friday listing the name of each victim, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that, including the Columbine shooting, 223 people have been killed by gun violence on school campuses since 1999. That number included mass shootings, gang shootings and any gun violence in campus housing or at school athletic fields. It excluded suicides, drive-by shooting victims and people killed on buses or at off-campus school events.

RELATED: 19 Years After Columbine, Students Walk Out To Stop Gun Violence

"We haven’t really seen any substantial change in government action," said El Camino High School sophomore Laura Hernandez. She's one of about a dozen students at the Oceanside school who have protested gun violence every Friday since March 2.

"We knew if we stood out here every week they’d see a constant of, like, (youth) really do want something," she said. "So (we're here) in the hopes of something actually happening for once."

Photo by Megan Burks

Students protest gun violence outside of El Camino High School, April 20, 2018.

The students walked out of their classrooms at 10:00 a.m. Friday to read speeches and observe a moment of silence.

Further south, at Hoover High School in City Heights, student leaders circulated voter registration forms and letters to lawmakers instead of leading a walkout. As with the walkout in March, each school approached things differently.

The Poway Unified School District said in a statement that officials at its schools "have been working with student leaders to coordinate safe places for those choosing to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights on campus in supervised areas."

"All PUSD attendance policies remain in effect should any of our students choose to leave campus and not return," district officials said, adding that, per CIF policy, student-athletes must attend at least two-thirds of their classes in order to be eligible to practice or compete later in the day.

Officials from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department released a statement saying they "respect everyone's right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner" but urging students to communicate with law enforcement before the protests, especially if a walkout or march would involve leaving a campus.

Sheriff's officials also urged any students who heard of possible violence to contact the Students Speaking Out tip line at (888) 580-8477.


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