BLOOMFIELD/NUTLEY, NJ - Nutley High School students joined thousands of other students across the state and around the country by walking out of classes as a part of the National School Walk Out.
Students walked out of the back of the school, across Vincent Place, into Yantacaw Park where they gathered on the basketball court. Students walked quietly, in reverence to the 17 students and faculty gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida on February 14. The carillon at Vincent United Methodist Church played during the entire time.
After gathering on the courts, a group of student leaders met on the hill and began to speak to the crowd. "This is bigger than the township of Nutley," the declaration began.
Bloomfield High School students also joined thousands of other students across the state and around the country by walking out of classes Wednesday.
The student walk out at Bloomfield High School began at 9:45 a.m. Broad Street was blocked with numerous police vehicles and dump trucks from the Bloomfield Department of Public Works.
Once all of the students were outside and standing on Broad Street, a student with a megaphone stood at the top of the stairs and began reading the names of the 17 victims that died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida exactly one month ago Wednesday.
Parents and the media were assigned an area directly directly across from the high school in the BOE parking lot to watch the student walk out. Many parents held signs of support for their children who were participating in the walk out. There were about 30 parents present. The parents chose not to speak to the media, but there there instead to show their support in silence.
"Watching the student-organized and student-led action was powerful. I was so proud to stand with other community members n support of their efforts. They are so bright and give me so much hope for the future" Bloomfield Councilwoman Dr. Nina Davis
The walk outs took place simultaneously across the country, with students walking out at 10 a.m. in their time zone.
In Nutley, the microphone then passed from student to student as each read the name and a short biography, with what were to be future aspirations of the 17 people lost at MSD. After the reading of the memorials the student shifted their focus on their next steps.
A student spoke of how the march is to commemorate those lost and to point out the inaction of Congress to offer common sense legislation to combat gun violence in America. "We are tired of Congress ignoring these catastophies." In 2018, "young minds are taking a stand," continued another student.
The student leaders of the march spoke almost collectively, not taken individual credit for the speeches or the march. They spoke about how 53 years ago The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the march to Selma with students. "We stand in the face of injustice," they student continued. "Who killed the 17 at Parkland? - the politicians who accept funds from the NRA, every lobbyist who allows the violence to continue, and everyone who remains silent. We will not be silent, that means protest, that means march."
The students then led a small chant:
"We are students, we are change,
We are students, we are change.
We have voices, we have power"
The students concluded with "this is only the beginning, are are students, we are not victims."
There was none of the laugher or jocularity one would expect from a gathering of so many teenagers. The march was about remembering those lost. The students then processed back into the school in the same orderly fashion in which they exited.
With the Essex County Sheriff's Office creating a perimeter within and around the park, Nutley Police creating road blocks, and a combination or both marked and unmarked patrol vehicles circling the area, the march area was secured from anyone who would want to disrupt the students. The park is a part of the Essex County Parks system making it the jurisdiction of the sheriff.
The #Enough National School Walkout movement was started by the Women's March Youth EMPOWER group calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a national walkout for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods, according to the Action Network website. The website stated, "We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship."