It’s been exactly one month since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — and some are choosing a somber way to pay tribute to the 17 people killed in the Parkland massacre.
Thousands of students and teachers began walking out of their classrooms on Wednesday, March 14 as part of the the #Enough! National School Walkout to raise awareness about issues of school safety and the impact of gun violence. The nationwide march, organized by Women’s March Youth Empower, began at 10 a.m. Many marches lasted 17 minutes, to represent each of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas were, of course, some of the most prominent participants.
Here’s what you need to know about the national school walkout on March 14:
The walkout was meant to commemorate the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was indicted last week on 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder, and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder. His lawyers also submitted paperwork last week to withdraw his not guilty plea.
“We are not saying he is ‘not guilty,’ but we can’t plead ‘guilty’ while death is still on the table,” according to a statement from Howard Finkelstein, the Broward County public defender who is representing Cruz. “Pleading ‘not guilty,’ even though it is form and process kicking off the legal process, just seemed wrong in this case, a legal fiction that could bring unnecessary pain to the victims’ families. Standing mute maintains our only position: he (Cruz) did it and he will plead guilty immediately to 34 consecutive life sentences without parole.”
The organizers of the March 14 walkout said they wanted this protest to be a call to action for Congress to pass gun control legislation, according to the event’s website.
“We view this work as part of an ongoing and decades-long movement for gun violence prevention, in honor of all victims of gun violence — from James Brady to Trayvon Martin to the 17 people killed in Parkland,” the Women’s March Youth Empower website wrote on its site.
For students, the Women’s March Youth Empower website provided a tool to search for a walkout at your school, along with resources for students, teachers, parents, and administration officials on how to have a safe and productive walkout.
But not all school districts were on board with the planned protest. Ahead of the proposed walkout, some schools have warned students against participating it it. For example, last month, a letter from the Needville Independent School District’s superintendent Curtis Rhodes was allegedly posted to the Needville High School’s Facebook page threatening to suspend students who participate in a “demonstration during school hours.” TIME reached out to Superintendent Rhodes about whether the letter still stands, but did not immediately hear back.
Texas – A letter sent to families by Needville ISD Superintendent Curtis Rhodes, threatens students with a three-day, out-of-school suspension if they join in growing protests nationwide over the Florida shooting.https://t.co/pZaBWZ6FIj#NeverAgain #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/vTnKR6EQJ1
For those who aren’t students or teachers, the #Enough organizers asked people to wear orange, which is associated with gun violence prevention, or stage workplace walkouts for 17 minutes, according to the Women’s March site.
The Women’s March and Women’s March Youth Empower organizers also suggested that people take time to register to vote.
Wear orange in solidarity! You can also take action by registering to vote: text P2P to RTVOTE (788-683) right now to get registered or to check/update your registration! #ENOUGH https://t.co/RbXVfnT4He
Students from all over the country. Here are some photos from the nation-wide protests.
Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, the site of a deadly school shooting that left 13 dead nearly 19 years ago:
The walkout at Columbine High School just wrapped. “We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and continuously asking: Why? Why does this keep happening?” pic.twitter.com/nxh3osWuFq
Students at the Columbine Memorial in Littleton, CO address the media before a planned walkout at Columbine High School. Follow @julieturkewitz & the @nytimes for updates on #NationalWalkoutDay #nytassignment pic.twitter.com/WvbxbSfyTY
In Parkland, Florida, students from West Lakes Middle School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gather.
WATCH: Drone footage shows Parkland students participating in #NationalWalkoutDay https://t.co/CMrz18WeFT pic.twitter.com/q7sEKqAmO6
#NeverAgain #NationalWalkoutDay ???????????? pic.twitter.com/QbONWoG8yb
Look at us, we’re high school students. Look at the impact we have made. This is for our 17 angels, and this is for our country.
A school in North Carolina:
Wow I’m literally the only one #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/2F95qY2vTI
Students in Boise, Idaho:
At the Idaho statehouse: “Protect kids not guns” (afterwards: “I get more rights than your guns!”) pic.twitter.com/4Lo8tWmG0U
“Our generation is Generation Columbine” pic.twitter.com/jzJffzqj3b
Students spoke in front of the U.S. Capitol:
Students in Pennsylvania:
More than 200 students participated in the LCTI Memorial Walkout. Dressed in red, they formed an enormous number 17 to represent those killed last month at MSD HS in Florida and observed a 17-minute period of silence. #enough #neveragain #nationalwalkoutday #walkoutwednesday pic.twitter.com/aXG0IGJr7I
Students in Queens in New York City:
Cardozo High School in Bayside #Enough #NationalSchoolWalkout #Queens #walkout #NYC pic.twitter.com/BIab9ty0na
Students in Columbus, Ohio:
“Enough is enough.” Students at South High School lead the walkout and rally for #SaferTogether Day. #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/BOpPmbOnA6
Students in San Jose, California:
San Jose, California @NotreDameSJ pic.twitter.com/iqWFTfwm4u
Students in Los Angeles, California:
Students at Granada Hills Charter High School walked out and spelled “#ENOUGH” on the football field as part of National Walkout Day. Students across the country are walking out to protest gun violence. #NOMOREGUN pic.twitter.com/NT67Ur7lK6
LIVE: Los Angeles students join #ENOUGH National School Walkout against gun violence? https://t.co/lOzNOVVYCP pic.twitter.com/iIW65h2uOi
And students in Albany, New York:
Hundreds of Albany High School students take part in #NationalWalkoutDay to call for an end to gun violence. #ENOUGH #nationalschoolwalkout pic.twitter.com/ynOJaGRpNu
And Lakeside High School in Georgia:
WE ARE THE FUTURE. WE ARE THE NOW. WE ARE THE CHANGE. #NationalSchoolWalkout #ENOUGH pic.twitter.com/KKZQTWfYk1
The 1969 Supreme Court ruling on the case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District makes it clear that students don’t “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” But that does come with some caveats and complications.
The polices around the walkout are a delicate balance between allowing students to protest for school safety and keeping students safe and not disrupting school, NPR explains. The biggest thing for students is to know your rights, know your school districts’ policies regarding possible punishment for things like an unexcused absence, and to plan ahead with parents, teachers, and school administrators.
On Saturday, March 24, the Parkland student survivors have organized March For Our Lives, which will take place in Washington, D.C. and around the globe at sister marches.
On March 24 we will take the streets of Washington DC and our communities across the country to #MarchForOurLives. Sign up at https://t.co/2m7ItdfFjV pic.twitter.com/yokyEdj7Jq
And there is another walkout planned for April 20, the 19-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The protest, dubbed the National High School Walkout, encourages participants to walk out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. on April 20 and leave school for the day.
Register your walkout with the national movement here! This is the best way to make sure your local walkout will reach as many people as possible. #NationalSchoolWalkout https://t.co/YOkSRXTfGw