Students across the United States walked out of classes on Wednesday in a nationwide call for action against gun violence following the shooting deaths last month at a Florida high school.
At 10am students in numerous cities held a moment of silence to honour the 14 students and three adult staff killed on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The “National School Walkout” was intended to last for 17 minutes, one for each victim.
But it quickly became apparent that many students at schools on the East Coast decided not to go to classes at all and to demonstrate instead.
In the nation’s capital, hundreds of students from Washington-area schools gathered outside the White House chanting “Never again!” and “Enough is enough!” and holding signs reading “Protect People Not Guns.”
The students in front of the White House also chanted against firearms, saying “Hey, hey, ho, ho. The NRA has got to go!” and “What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!”
Trump was travelling in Los Angeles and was not in the White House during the demonstrations.
At East Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina, students were holding a session discussing gun violence in addition to joining in the walkout.
The students were wearing orange T-shirts emblazoned with an outline of the state and “#enough”. Senior pupil Talia Pomp, who handed out the shirts, said she was working to prevent a repeat of the Florida shooting.
But not all schools were comfortable with the walkout. Kraig Hissong, the superintendent at West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio told The Springfield News-Sun that students participating in the march could face detention or more serious punishments.
The nationwide protest is being held one month to the day after Nikolas Cruz, a troubled 19-year-old former pupil at Stoneman Douglas, unleashed a hail of gunfire on his former classmates.
The event to honour those slain at Stoneman Douglas is also an act of protest against the firearms violence plaguing the United States, which has more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually.
Organisers come from the same group behind the Women’s March, which saw millions of demonstrators take to the streets in cities across the country in January 2017 to protest Donald Trump’s White House inauguration.
Trump had momentarily signalled support for increasing restrictions on guns, but now stands accused of bowing to the powerful US gun lobby.
The walkout by students was matched by a 17-minute blackout by Viacom across all its channels, including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and BET.