US A generation shaped by gun violence plans to make itself heard today. Here's how
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Jackson Mittleman opened a news alert on his phone on Valentine's Day, and saw a tragically familiar image: Students with their hands raised, fleeing a shooting.
It brought him back to December 14, 2012, when similar images from his hometown of Newtown, Connecticut, were broadcast around the country. On that day, his community joined what he calls a family "no one wants to be a part of."
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A controversial Indiana University student editorial blames the Parkland shooting that killed 17 on “toxic masculinity.” A controversial Indiana University student editorial blames the Parkland shooting that kil Load Error The Indiana Daily Student op-ed, looking at the history of mass shootings in America since Columbine in 1999, concluded there is one thing they all have in common: gender.
Now the people of Parkland, Florida were joining it, too. His heart ached for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High as he thought about what they were going through, and what lay ahead. "Is it ever going to stop?" he asked himself.
Mittleman was an 11-year-old sixth grader when a gunman killed 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary, two miles from his school -- a tragedy that changed the course of his life. Now 16, he's a gun control advocate who's joining the national school walkout on Wednesday that's part memorial and part protest.
"A message we're trying to send to Parkland is we stand behind them," said Jackson, co-chair of the Jr. Newtown Action Alliance, who is organizing the walkout at Newtown High School. "We are motivated and we are fired up to push as hard as they push and fight as long as they fight."
Survivor of California Christmas massacre is joining walkout
Katrina Yuzefpolsky was 8 when a man dressed as Santa Claus shot her in the face and killed nine of her family members with guns and a homemade flamethrower . Now more than eight years later, Yuzefpolsky is 17 and joining a growing group of adolescents who have survived gun violence and are demanding change. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes) 2/4 SLIDES © The Associated Press In this Monday, March 12, 2018, Bella Marez, left, and Katrina Yuzefpolsky pose for a photograph after practice with their high school softball team in Pasadena, Calif.
A national day of protest
Last month, organizers from the Women's March youth branchfor students across the country to walk out of class for 17 minutes -- one for each victim who died in the Parkland shooting -- on March 14, to pressure lawmakers to act on gun control.
Now, in addition to walkouts, students across the country are planning rallies, marches and sit-ins -- some in open defiance of their school districts.
Participants say they want to make sure that calls for change in the wake of Parkland take into account the broader context of gun violence in the United States. For D'Angelo McDade, a senior at North Lawndale College Prep High School in Chicago, gun violence is personal -- but not because of a shooting at school.
He was shot in the thigh as he sat on his front porch in the summer of 2017, leaving bullet fragments in his body, he said. As soon as he was released from the hospital, he started talking to his principal about ways to fight gun violence. On Wednesday, he plans to lead more than half of the school's 600 students on a walkout to converge with teens from other schools.
MTV Goes Dark for 17 Minutes to Support National School Walkout
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, MTV and other Viacom networks suspended their scheduled programming for 17 minutes in conjunction with National Walkout Day, where students exited their classrooms to protest gun violence and honor the 17 people who were killed in the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. “Right now, students everywhere are walking out of school to take a stand against gun violence. We stand with them,” the network says in a statement. Instead of airing shows, MTV featured 17 young adults leading the fight against gun violence. Both MTV and Comedy Central also changed their logos to orange, the color that connotes gun violence awareness, leading up to the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24.
"Many of our community members and young adults have established a sense of hopelessness and normalized the suffering that comes with gun violence," he said. "But they're ready to see a change."
Security or criminalization?
In response to the Parkland shooting, the White House has proposed that some school personnel be.
Student organizers behind the day of action said in a conference call Monday that they feared introducing more guns or police into schools could turn them into prisons, with dangerous consequences for students of color.
"Yes, we are standing in solidarity with the youth from the mass shooting, but we also know that the repercussions of what's going to happen next is going to land on black and brown students within low income communities," said Keno Walker with Power U Center for Social Change in Miami, a youth organization that is helping local high school students organize walkouts.
Several student activists said that having more police and enhanced security measures in schools would make them feel less safe.
Stoneman Douglas survivor: 'We're the mass shooting generation'
One of the students who survived the mass shooting at a Florida high school last month said that his generation is "the mass shooting generation." "We're the mass shooting generation," Cameron Kasky said on a "60 Minutes" segment that aired Sunday."We're the mass shooting generation," Cameron Kasky said on a "60 Minutes" segment that aired Sunday.
Andrea Colon, a senior at Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability in New York, said her school already has metal detectors and police officers. The impact is "dehumanizing," she said.
"It creates this sense of criminalization that no one really wants to feel," she said. "School is supposed to be a place where you go and feel safe, you feel supported, and that's not how you feel when you have to go through metal detectors, and you're patted down because you have too many bobby pins in your hair or because you didn't take your belt off and you have to be wanded."
"Instead of arming teachers with guns or adding more 'safety' or police, we want better school facilities, more mental health support, more school supplies and safety that does not involve the police," said Ilene Orgaz, a junior at KIPP Denver Collegiate in Colorado.
Penalties for walking out
Some school districts have said they will discipline students who participate in the walkouts.
Students who leave classes in New Richmond, Ohio, for example, will receive an "unexcused tardy,". For students in Montgomery County, Maryland, walking out will count as an .
In the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, Georgia, the school district said it will take disciplinary action -- ranging from Saturday school to five days' suspension per district guidelines -- against students who walk out, citing safety concerns.
Poll: For the Columbine generation, gun violence is a defining fear
The Columbine generation calls gun violence a defining fear, and many vow to join March for Our LIves.The survey of 13- to 24-year-olds — including more than 600 middle-school and high-school students — shows both the depth of anxiety that school violence has fueled and the way a movement has spread across the country in the weeks since a rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead.
The prospect has deterred some students, but not all of them, Pope High School senior Kara Litwin said.
"Change never happens without backlash," she said Tuesday. "This is a movement, this is not simply a moment, and this is only the first step in our long process."
Growing up in the shadow of gun violence
Students who planned to participate in the walkouts said they feel their generation has been profoundly shaped by the specter of gun violence. By raising their voices, they hope they will be the last kids to grow up with metal detectors and active shooter drills.
Sam Craig of Littleton, Colorado, was not alive during the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that put his hometown on the map. But the tragedy has shaped his life.
He grew up with school lockdown drills performed in the name of Columbine. His internship at Denver Zoo includes live shooter drills that include references to Columbine. He knows a teacher who was at Columbine during the shooting, who shares his view that school staff should not be armed, he said.
But the Chatfield High School junior said the community is stronger because of the shooting. People look out for each other because they don't want anyone to feel "pushed to the point of no return" like the Columbine shooters, he said.
Each year, the town comes together on the anniversary for a day of service, he said.
"We try to find that balance to make our community more connected and loving," said Craig, who is organizing the walkout at his school.
Abigail Orton, a junior at Columbine High School, said she was inspired to take action on Wednesday by the quick progress of the Parkland students.
"I am absolutely amazed at the amount that they've already accomplished, getting their voices out there and being able to speak on this so recently after the event, and to be able to use their status to start bringing about change," she said.
"I'm honored to be able to call this my generation and to be part of this movement."
CNN's Bill Kirkos and Brad Parks contributed reporting.
Shot on the streets of Chicago as teens, they're heading to DC to protest gun violence .
CHICAGO - Like many of the young people who are heading to Washington, D.C., for Saturday's protest against gun violence, Dantrell Blake and Deshon Hannah are concerned about deadly school shootings. But Blake, 21, and Hannah, 20, also have very personal reasons for attending. Both were shot as teens on the streets of Chicago; Blake still has a bullet lodged in his left leg because doctors determined that removing it would damage bone. His cousin Hannah was hit with 30 buckshot pellets, 24 of which remain in his body.
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