Five days after the latest school shooting—in which 19-year-old Nikolaus Cruz killed 17 students and injured more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida—students across the country are sending a message to the nation’s lawmakers: Do something.
Earlier today—President’s Day—more than 100 D.C.-area students descended upon the White House for a “lie-in” to protest gun violence and urge President Donald Trump and members of Congress to pass stricter gun control laws. Currently, a large march against gun violence in D.C. is being organized for March 24.
Among the protesters gathered outside the White House today were 13-year-olds Sydney Lane-Ryer and Violet Smith, sharing a sign with a simple, stark message: “AM I NEXT?” Matt Cohen
“Children are dying in the one place they should feel safe. And nobody is doing anything about it. It’s outrageous. And it’s wrong. And we’re trying to do something about it because we’re scared for our lives walking into school every day,” said Lane-Ryer, who attends the City Neighbors Hamilton school in Baltimore.
Both Lane-Ryer and Smith, who attends the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Baltimore, say their schools have two drills a year to prepare their students for what to do if there’s a school shooter. “There’s 6-year-olds that get killed everyday,” said Smith. “We have two drills a year. It’s pointless, because if we just got rid of guns, this would not be happening.”
On one occasion for Lane-Ryer, it wasn’t a drill. Her school was locked down for what turned out to be a BB gun another student brought to school.
“I remember that feeling of being there and not knowing what was going to happen and hearing on the news about all of these kids being killed in school shootings and not knowing if it was going to happen to me,” she recalled. “It was terrifying.”
As students shouted “SHAME ON YOU!” toward Trump’s White House (Trump, naturally isn’t in the White House today. According to a White House press pool report, the Presidential motorcade pulled into the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach at 9:09 this morning.), Lane-Ryer’s eyes welled up: “We shouldn’t have to know the places in our classrooms to hide so that someone with a gun in the hallway won’t see us,” she said.