Portland students join nationwide walkout to protest gun violence

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 5:27 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Hundreds of Portland Public School students joined thousands more around the country in walking out of class on Wednesday to protest gun violence in American schools.

The nationwide walkout was in response to the latest deadly school shooting at a Nashville grade school that killed three adults and three children. At the ring of a bell, dozens of students at West Sylvan Middle School walked out of class demanding lawmakers do something to stop gun violence.

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Frances, a seventh grader at the middle school, said there is an underlying anxiety on campus that the next shooting could be on her campus.

“I should not have to be afraid in my own school, for my own life, on a daily basis,” Frances said. “That is not why I come here.”

According to the K through 12 School Shooting Database, an independent research project that tracks school shootings, there have been 96 shoots on American school campuses so far this year.

Cyrus Brodsky is an eighth grader at West Sylvan Middle School. He said the walkout was to show lawmakers at all levels of government they want change to keep them and other students safe at school. He said there are lockdown drills every so often to prepare for a school shooter, but he said that’s not enough to keep him safe.

“We do fire drills once a month and I feel like nowadays a school shooting is a lot more likely to happen than a fire,” Brodsky said.

Joe Janiga is a parent at West Sylvan Middle School. He showed up to the walkout to support his son. He said he is proud of him for expressing his views through the democratic process. His son will have occasional thoughts of planned escape routes in the back of his head just in case a potential shooter walks onto campus.

“You know maybe that’s a low level of anxiety that just bubbles up occasionally but to even have that in school when you’re trying to learn, it’s horrible in my mind,” Janiga said.

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Portland Public Schools sent FOX 12 a statement about the walkouts across its district:

“Portland Public Schools aspires to graduate compassionate, critical thinkers who are able to collaborate to solve problems and lead a more socially-just world. Our students are rightly angry, and we applaud them for demanding common-sense gun reforms. This advocacy mirrors our work to build positive school climates where students’ physical and emotional well-being can thrive.”

As lawmakers at all levels of government decide what to do to curb gun violence in schools, Frances shared this message:

“We are afraid, we know our lives are at risk for something that is not our fault this is not the way it should be in this country,” Frances said. “This is truly just in America. We need to change this.”