Thousands of Students Walk Out of Classrooms in Nationwide Protest Against Gun Violence

In a nationwide protest against gun violence, students across the country exited their classrooms at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — a minute for each of the victims killed during the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

In an effort to peacefully protest gun violence, the organizers of the January 2017 Women’s March created National Walkout Day to coincide with the one-month anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 victims were fatally shot.

More than 185,000 students from more than 2,500 schools were expected to participate.

“There’s gun violence in our schools and on our streets and we want to show the members of Congress and other adults in our lives that we are fed up with being unsafe,” Madison Thomas, national college coordinator for Women’s March Youth Empower, told PEOPLE. “We’re finally taking a stand and showing unified support for gun reform.”

Students around the nation have planned walkouts, including at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Fla., in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. Communities with schools where other mass shootings occurred such as Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, are expected to hold walkouts as well.

Some school districts across the country have threatened disciplinary action against students who walk out.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Juvenile Defender Center will be staffing a legal referral hotline to connect students and/or their parents to local attorneys. The hotline number is 1-857-529-9373 (1-857-LAWYER3).

The wave of support for laws to prevent gun violence continues to surge. The student-organized March For Our Lives will take place on March 24 in Washington, D.C. There will be hundreds of sibling marches held across the world, according to the march’s website.

Students across the country will be showing their support through social media. EMPOWER, the group organizing the protest, is using the hashtag #ENOUGH, and students are also using the hashtags #NeverAgain and #StudentsStandUp.

To help you make your voice heard — and to let your representatives know you will vote on the issue of sensible gun legislation — PEOPLE has released its Call to Action with the contact information for every single voting member of Congress.

WE ARE THE CHANGE. #NationalSchoolWalkout

— Jaclyn Corin (@JaclynCorin) March 14, 2018

Today, 1 month after of the day that changed our lives forever, we will join the school walkout. We will join the walkout for every one of those 17, and for every other victim of gun violence. We will join for those that are still here. We will join for you. #NeverAgain

— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) March 14, 2018

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