Rachel Song (left) and Katrina Taeza, both juniors at Brooklyn Technical High School, hold up signs during a rally at Borough Hall in Brooklyn on Wednesday as part of a nationwide protest against gun violence. (JUDY ZHU / CHINA DAILY)
One month after the deadly shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, young activists across the U.S. marched to demand an end to gun violence.
Organized by Women's March Youth Empower, thousands of students and teachers walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday as part of the the Enough! National School Walkout to raise awareness about issues of school safety and gun control.
The walkout lasted 17 minutes at 10 am across every time zone to mark the 17 deaths at the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, by a former student.
About 3,000 schools across the country participated in Wednesday's nationwide protest, according to USA Today.
Rachel Song, an 11th grader from Brooklyn Technical High School, shouted "enough is enough", as did many other students gathered at Borough Hall in Brooklyn on Wednesday morning.
"We want to end gun violence. It's a simple and clear message," Song said, holding a sign saying "End Gun Violence" and a red cross over the letters "NRA".
"Honestly, I don't really think about my school" being attacked by a shooter. "But I think it's very sad that other people do have to suffer about it. I feel like if more people everywhere care about it and advocate it everywhere, there will be change, " said Song, who is Chinese American.
The students were sending a message to lawmakers for stricter gun laws.
"At 18 you can vote and buy an assault rifle in some cities, but you can't drink. So why drinking is resolved for 21 but you can get an assault rifle at 18? It doesn't make sense," said Katrina Taeza, a junior at Brooklyn Tech.
"It will be hard to completely get rid of guns. We can start by having legislators prevent kids, or anyone, from getting an assault rifle," Taeza said.
Representatives of government officials also spoke at the various protests.
"Today, we say enough is enough to gun violence, and I am proud to stand in solidarity with America's students in the fight to prevent additional gun tragedies," said U.S. Representative Grace Meng, who joined students on Capitol Hill in Washington.
"I salute the advocacy and passion of these young men and women, and I applaud each and every one of them for taking a stand and making their voices heard," said Meng, whose district comprises Queens. "No student should fear going to school, and all communities deserve to feel safe. We must keep up the fight to prevent future gun violence, and I will continue to do all I can to help make that happen," she said.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also joined students in a rally at the University of Washington's Red Square.
"Seeing so many students out today marching and standing up to demand action is truly inspiring. We know that the future is yours to create — change will happen with you," Durkan tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
The National Rifle Association also posted on Twitter: "Let's work together to stop school violence" and tweeted a picture of a semiautomatic rifle with the words, "I'll control my own guns, thank you."