Ignoring snow closures, Maine students take part in anti-gun violence protest

Photo: Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Teenagers throughout Maine joined the #Enough national student walkout on Wednesday, even in communities where heavy snow forced school closures.

Many students in Maine were prevented from participating in a national school walkout to protest gun violence by a force more powerful than any principal: nature.

Yet despite school closings across the state due to a major snowstorm, students from colleges and high schools down through middle school pupils gathered in city squares and on sidewalks to protest gun violence and to call for greater gun safety measures from lawmakers.

From the southern part of the state through towns and college campuses further north, students could be found taking part in the national #Enough event, which included approximately 3,000 school walkouts across the country. The walkouts were organized by Empower, the youth branch of the Women’s March.

York High School and its counterpart in Yarmouth were both open for business until 10 am, when hundreds of students poured outside to join the protest action, according to the Portland Press Herald.

“This is the future,” Yarmouth High senior Eliza Brown said while encouraging other students to make themselves heard at the polls. “We’re going to be voting these people in and out of office.”

Some higher-education students also took part at Colby College in Waterville and St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

In Portland, the state’s largest city, high school and younger students gathered in Monument Square to voice their opposition to gun violence and exhibit their knowledge of the rights they have as citizens.

Tenley Flint stood on a snow pile with more than 20 of her fellow students from King Middle School, who held signs reading, “We Want Policy + Change” and “Gun Reform Now.”

“Lawmakers have not changed our gun laws despite how much our guns have advanced since 1792, when the [Second] Amendment was approved,” Flint said. “But can we really trust that the lawmakers who are being paid off by the NRA, or National Rifle Association, would want to restrict guns? I don’t think we can.”

Portland High School Principal Sheila Jepson and Mayor Ethan Strimling were on hand to observe the Monument Square demonstration.

“I’m very proud of these students for raising their voices,” Strimling told the Munjoy Hill News. “I hope the adults will listen.”

Other Portland High administrators attended the protest holding signs reading, “PHS supports #notonemore” and “PHS supports 17 minutes for 17 lives.”

Maine’s national and state legislators were among those expressing support for the students on social media.

Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, a Democrat from Freeport, posted a message showing video of the approximately 50 students in her hometown and surrounding communities who came out in spite of school closures to stand on a sidewalk holding signs representing the #Enough movement with messages including, “Enough Is Enough,” “Protect The Children,” and the slogan made a rallying cry by student protesters from Parkland, Florida: “We Call BS.” One sign was emblazoned with a simple, green Peace symbol.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also tweeted support for students protesting across her home state.

Some of the student walkouts affected by snow closures, including those planned for Portland and Bangor schools, have been rescheduled for today or Friday, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The mass student walkout was prompted by the shootings, exactly one month before the protest, that left 17 students and staff dead at Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland and has sparked a national youth movement against gun violence in their schools, as well as calls for increased legal regulations for gun ownership and purchases.

President Donald Trump initially responded by claiming he supported raising the minimum purchasing age to 21 for all guns, but a March 11 White House proposal on gun policies retreated from the age change and instead pressed for arming teachers as a deterrent to school shootings.