With chants of "lives over guns" and "lock up the politicians, lock up the ammunition," a group of Fort Lauderdale High School students protested Tuesday in favor of stricter gun control laws.
They were joined by students at other high schools in South Florida, including South Broward and West Boca, in protesting just days after the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland which took 17 lives. Fort Lauderdale students said they also plan to orchestrate a walkout on Wednesday as a further protest.
"We're not safe anymore," said Alley Robertson, a senior who organized the protest in front of the school on the sidewalk of Northeast 4 Avenue. She said that no matter where people go, schools, churches, concerts, nowhere is safe and it's time to vote out politicians who refuse to take action. "We're not being protected anymore."
She wasn't alone.
Kayla Austin, a senior who also helped organize the protest, said her fellow students who are old enough plan to register and vote in the upcoming 2018 Midterms. "Absolutely. Especially the senior class . . . [School is] my place. They took that safety and security away from me."
She said she doesn't understand how individuals like the Stoneman Douglas shooter are still allowed to purchase guns. Austin attended Stoneman Douglas her freshman year before transferring to Fort Lauderdale.
"It was close to home. That's a 30-minute drive [from our school]. It hit us harder than I realized . . . We have to be their voice," said Austin, who knew cross-country coach Scott Beigel, one of the people murdered in the shooting. "It's so surreal," said Austin, who added that parents of the Fort Lauderdale students came out to support them with food and encouragement. "I almost cried."
Among the calls for stricter gun control was at least one student who also wants to see more done about mental illness and bullying on school campuses.
"I support this [call for more gun control], but I think it's also mental illness," said Marline, a sophomore who asked not to have her last name published. "I heard the shooter got bullied. We have to treat people how we want to be treated."