Students walk out of class to protest gun violence

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Hundreds of students at Cordova High School walked out of class Thursday to stand against violence.

The walkout was part of a national movement that hopes to reduce gun violence.

As the clock struck 1 p.m., hundreds of students left their desks and walked out to the football field.

"Students don't really have a voice, and I feel like our voices are empowered and can come as one and that was the whole purpose of this protest," student Emmanuel Cruz said.

Decked out in orange, students shared the pain they felt over continuous gun violence.

They named each person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and released 17 balloons in their memory.

"All violence affects everyone. No matter what age, what race, what religion, what gender," student Jayden Gilliam said.

Students also took the time to mourn victims of violence in their own communities.

Deja Chatman, a junior at Cordova High School, said her cousin's death from gun violence in Memphis forever changed her life. She said she doesn't want anyone to feel that type of pain.

"If we end all violence that means we can end gun violence, sexual abuse, bullying, internet bullying, any form of violence you may see," Gilliam said.

During the walkout, speakers called for their fellow students to become advocates, reach out to local officials, and actively fight for change.

"I 100 percent think this is 100 percent a step closer to changing things," Gilliam said.

The walkouts in Shelby County came a day before the official National Walk Out events across the country.

Shelby County students said they organized the events for a day early out of respect for the families of the victims in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School--Friday marks the 19th anniversary of that tragedy.

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