Hundreds of students at Little Rock’s Central High School walked out of class Wednesday in a show of solidarity with young people conducting similar demonstrations at schools across the nation and outside the White House.
At Central, students chanted slogans like “books not bullets” and “this is what democracy looks like,” while holding handmade signs that read things like “Never again,” “Central stands with Parkland,” and “Why are we still talking about this?”
The day of demonstrations comes one month after the latest mass shooting, this time at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"We take classes on math and science; we should not have to take classes on how to dodge bullets," Central High School Student Body President Erin Farmer told the crowd. "We are kids; we are supposed to come here and learn, not to lose our life. Enough is enough," she said, prompting students to begin chanting "enough is enough."
17 balloons were released in front of the school, one for each of those who died in Florida.
Speaking to reporters, Farmer said she was rattled by this latest attack.
"When Parkland happened, I just thought that no one is safe," she said. "To know that I’m in high school and that happened – to know that I go to historic Central High School, there are thousands of kids here – this could have happened any day, any second, and it makes me scared to come to school some days. I don’t know if I want to get up and come. Do I want to go learn, or do I want to lose my life."
Little Rock police closed Park Street in front of the school and officers looked on as the students took part. The Little Rock School District allowed this demonstration to take place, while other districts in Arkansas, including Bentonville, threatened students with disciplinary action if they left class.
Watching from a sidewalk across the street from Central, holding a sign that said "standing together," was Patricia Mathews, whose son is a 10th grader at the school.
"I think it’s really exciting to see our youth taking a stand on things and standing up for themselves," Mathews said. "It gives me a new hope that maybe there’s a possibility for some change to happen around the issues. And I love that Little Rock Central, and the Little Rock School District in general, are empowering the kids to do that and not blocking it, actually giving them permission to do it."