A large majority of students at the Leonardo Da Vinci High School in Buffalo walked out of class Wednesday morning. They protested for 17-minutes as part of the national movement against gun violence and to honor the lives lost in the Parkland, Florida school shootings last month. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley covered the protest and asked students what's next?
Da Vinci students chanted “how many more?” a question to U.S. lawmakers about the risk of another active shooter entering a school building and taking more lives.
“An active shooter walking in – I think that says it for itself – an active shooter walking in – do you want that? Can say that? Does the President want to hear an active shooter is walking into our school and shooting up the school,” stated Safi Alam, junior at Da Vinci.
Alam said it was more than just a walk-out. He called was a “bold statement” from students. They’re calling for gun reforms, telling us they don't' want someone too young or with a mental illness to have the ability to buy an assault weapon.
“I don’t believe that guns should be taken away – it’s our second amendment, but I do believe that a mentally ill person should not be able to easily get a gun, a teenager should not be allowed to get a gun – there needs to be mental health screenings and there need to be harder background checks,” responded Naki Nanor, 10th grader at Da Vinci.
Nanor said she’s experienced gun violence.
“I lived in a neighborhood where there was shootings every night. I’ve hide under my bed because I was scared that I was going to be shot, so I know the effects. I know how scared you can be, no one should be worried about getting shot. I shouldn’t walk into school and be scared for my life,” Nanor explained.
Students tell us they will continue pushing for safe schools through social media and as future voters. Madeline Rivera is a junior at Da Vinci.
“Well I think we’re going to continue to participate in movements such as this until we’re voters and then when we are voters, we’re going to make sure who we elect is going to listen to us and be open to compromise,” Rivera remarked.
Nearly 400 Da Vinci students marched around the entire block of their school building on Porter Avenue. It was led by their principal in a peaceful, respectful protest.
Second year students Salma Almosaadi and Eleanor Fish organized the Da Vinci walk-out.
“Anything can happen and it’s just really scary cause anyone can walk into a building and just say ‘today’s the day’ – like I want to do something terrible,” Almosaadi said.
“I just feel so connected to the people that were lost in Parkland – like it hurt me as a person because I cried for like nights – because it’s just so sad to think about the people that were lost,” stated Fish.
“Tragedies – they happen anytime – you can’t prevent them unless you do something about it and try,” explained Almosaadi.
“If nothing changes – how disappointing will that be?” asked Buckley. “It would be disappointing, but I wouldn’t stop – things need to change,” answered Almosaadi. “I agree completely – things need to change – even if it doesn’t get fixed now – I’m still going to keep fighting for future children,” Fish replied.