While a number of planned walkouts were rescheduled Wednesday due to weather, rallies did take place across the state as part of a nationwide protest.
Sen. Leahy, on Senate Floor: "Outside this Capitol are young students who've brought their powerful message to us INSIDE the Capitol. I'm so proud of the #VT students whose voices are joining this nationwide chorus. They've shown up, braving heavy snow to deliver their message."
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) March 14, 2018
Over 100 Burlington High School students joined in a national walkout to protest gun violence this morning.
The 17-minute rally took place a month after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Student speakers in Burlington called on elected officials to support policies like background checks on gun purchases and restrictions on sales of some firearms.
Senior Amanda Tran says students should feel safe in school:
“The president and everyone else is not giving us what we need right now and what we need is comfort and securence (sic) and we don’t have that,” she said. “As a student body we feel like we can help make a change in order to help get to those steps, even if they’re little, we can make a step to those changes.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger released the following statement Wednesday supporting the national walkout and the local students participating:
“Our children are doing something remarkable. Students in Burlington, in towns throughout Vermont, and across the entire country, are organizing the most effective gun violence reform effort in the United States in a generation. I applaud the leadership and activism of the students at Burlington High School, and elsewhere in Vermont, who have thoughtfully participated in National School Walkout Day and made their voices heard in Montpelier. Already, through their forceful arguments, these students have accomplished more in a few short weeks to move Vermont towards safer gun policies than has been achieved in decades.
“As elected leaders, one of our most fundamental responsibilities is to enact and support policies that protect our children and provide safe environments for them to learn and grow. Our kids are right that we are failing as a country and state to meet this most basic responsibility. I am proud of the actions of Burlington students during their walkout today, and I will be in Montpelier tomorrow and in the weeks ahead attempting to amplify their message – we cannot miss the opportunity to make Vermont safer this legislative session.”
Just before 10 a.m. Wednesday, Brattleboro Union High School students left their classrooms and began walking out of the school. Just about a third of the student body participated in the rally, gathering outside the school's entrance.
There they were met by about 100 members of the community there to show their support.
While school was canceled at South Burlington schools today, Matthew Vigneau, the 13-year-old middle school organizer of the school's walkout says the event has been re-secheduled for tomorrow.
"Our hope is that we can send this message to our legislators both in Montpelier and in Washington," Vigneau said Wednesday in an interview with VPR, "but since we can't vote, but we still need to have our opinions heard, that we need to have common sense gun laws. We don't want to have to turn on the news anymore to hear that more of our peers are being slaughtered in their classrooms because that's not OK."
Vigneau says a group of middle and high schoolers plan to walk out at 10 Thursday morning and gather in a parking lot for a moment of silence and speeches.
House and Senate education committees say they want to hear directly from the Vermont students who participated in #nationalwalkoutday. They'll hold a public hearing from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Statehouse next Wednesday to take testimony #vtpoli
— Peter Hirschfeld (@PeteHirschfeld) March 14, 2018
This morning I stood with thousands of students on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to demand common sense gun safety reforms. This is indeed what democracy looks like. It’s time for Congress to act!#NationalSchoolWalkout #vtpoli #VTED pic.twitter.com/LWVcxOpxmy
— Rep. Peter Welch (@PeterWelch) March 14, 2018