Dozens of Boulder-area students walked out of their schools on Friday, but most Colorado students stayed in class or participated in low-key, meaningful activities to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.
Instead of leaving classes during a national protest against gun violence, students at Columbine spent Friday doing community service work. The school traditionally closes its doors on April 20, the day two student gunmen walked through its doors in 1999 and killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.
About 500 students and activists rallied Thursday night near Columbine High, calling for tougher laws to end gun violence. The event marked the start of the Vote for Our Lives movement, which is pushing teens and twenty-somethings to register and vote for candidates who will back school safety and gun-control measures.
Among those at the rally Thursday were students who survived the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Parkland killings began a national student movement aimed at ending gun violence and tightening restrictions on guns.
Students from more than 2,600 schools and institutions across the country left their classes at 10 a.m. local time Friday to remember the Columbine massacre. After walking out of class and observing a 13-second moment of silence for gun violence victims, students lobbied to register voters and marched to the offices of local legislatures.
Some DPS high school students had discussed a walkout and march to the state Capitol to mirror similar protests across the country, but that did not materialize, said Will Jones, DPS spokesman.
Instead, students at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Denver took part in a “Peace Walk” in Harvey Park, adjacent to the school, while a variety of on-campus activities were put on at the Denver School of the Arts.
Students from four high schools walked out of class in Boulder and marched to the Boulder County Courthouse where they chanted: “Hey, hey, ho, ho! The NRA has go to go!” Watershed Waldorf School Junior Dani Cooke said the demonstrators were hoping to combat complacency about gun violence.
“In a place like Boulder, there are a lot of people who don’t recognize oppression or issues of social justice, like gun violence, because they haven’t directly touched our community as much as they have others,” Cooke told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Dudley Brown, president of the Loveland-based National Association for Gun Rights, said the protesting students are seeking to destroy Second Amendment rights to own a weapon.
“The main objective of these students is to ban firearms completely, and confiscate the firearms of law-abiding Americans,” Brown said. “We will oppose them at every step.”
The Boulder Daily Camera and The Associated Press contributed to this report.