Providence students march to State House to protest gun violence
A few hundred Providence students marched from Classical High School to the State House on Wednesday to protest gun violence.
The students chanted "protect kids, not guns," "no more silence, end gun violence,” and ‘hey hey, ho ho, gun violence has got to go,” as they made their way through downtown streets.
The protest was tied to the National School Walkout, which came a month after a shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead.
“I'm definitely concerned,” Jeraldyn Ramirez, a Classical High School student, told NBC 10 News. “It's so scary, now that we look at the news every day. There's a new story every day. It has to stop.”
Yaseem Nagib, another Classical student, said she took part in the protest “to help make sure that guns don't take any more lives.”
“It's really important to all of us and we're worried about our fellow students throughout the country,” he said.
Unlike other walkouts where students briefly left school at 10 a.m. but then went back in, some with the support of school leaders, the Providence walkout was at 12:45 p.m. and the students did not go back.
The walkout was not sanctioned by Providence Schools, which will give the students who left an unexcused absence and notify parents.
If a student was disruptive while walking out, they might face discipline.
A spokeswoman for the school department told NBC 10 that while they believe in student voice and the right to protest, it should not be during school hours and to do so is a safety issue.
Students said they understood the policy, but felt the walkout was worth it.
“My mom was really supportive about it,” Lesley Sandoval, another Classical student, said. “She wouldn't want her kid going to school and dying.”
When they arrived at the State House, students called for stricter gun laws.
“Too many people have died. Too many families have lost loved ones. I feel like it's time for us to stand up and do something,” Joseph Tutu-Afriyie, a Hope High School student, said.
“I can't help but wonder when is my school next,” another student said to the crowd. “True freedom is taken away when innocent lives are taken away, not when a gun is taken away.”
The punishment will be more severe for a couple of students who walked out of St. Patrick Academy, which is located right near the State House. They got a five-day suspension, with the principal telling NBC 10 the students were warned ahead of time and told of the consequences, but they left anyway
Meanwhile, Providence police said they had officers on hand to ensure the students' safety as they marched through the streets.