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Swampscott walkout honors Parkland victims, urges gun reform

SWAMPSCOTT- Shortly after 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20 hundreds of Swampscott High School students got up from their desks, exited their classrooms and walked out the front door.

They gathered around the border of a pink-colored heart spraypainted on the Essex Street school’s snow-blanketed lower field.

And as the mid-morning walkout played out, federal agents and police descended upon a southern Maryland high school - where a male student shot a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy before a school resources officer stepped in and killed the lone shooter.

The shooting - 70 miles south from the nation’s capital - came a little over a month after a teenager killed 14 students and three adults at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The latter sparked the March for Our Lives movement - founded by a handful of teenage activists who survived the Parkland shooting – and a renewed national debate about the country’s gun violence and Congress’ longstanding inaction to do something about the epidemic.

“We’re wildly impressed with the students organizing the March for Our Lives, and the response from students across the country as well as specifically Parkland students,” said Brian Strothman, a senior and one of about 10 students who helped organize Swampscott’s walkout Tuesday. “They’ve made it clear that thoughts and prayers are no longer enough, and that real change is needed now.”

Swampscott’s demonstration aimed to bolster that message, he added, and came six days after tens of thousands of teenagers did the same on Wednesday, March 14- as part of the larger March for Our Lives movement.

In the crowd, one could find several students holding protest signs: “Am I next?” “Never again” “Protect lives not guns” and “Thoughts and prayers are not bullet proof.”

For the event, student organizers packaged a slate of just shy of a dozen speakers, including state Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, and (newly minted) Sen. Brendan Crighton, D-Lynn, both of whom organizers invited.

By: William J. Dowd

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