Last week, hundreds of kids marched out of high schools in California for an anti-gun rally resulting in some students getting violent, destroying property, and getting arrested.
In a wave of demonstrations reaching from California to Maine, students at U.S. high schools walked out of class last Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the victims of last months’ deadly shooting in Florida.
The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting left 17 teachers and students dead in Parkland, Florida.
The protests spread from school to school as students shared plans for their demonstrations over social media. Many lasted 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
But some students took the opportunity to get violent, specifically in a central California town.
Stockton, California police said some students got violent, throwing rocks and damaged both police and citizen vehicles.
Five arrests were made, including charges of battery on an officer, resisting arrest, taking an officer’s baton and vandalizing vehicles, including patrol vehicles, Stockton police said.
During one incident, an officer approached a group of students attempting to leave a school by jumping a fence. When the officer approached the students, police said they fought with the officer and took his baton.
Students at Stagg, Edison, Chavez, Lincoln and Village Oak high schools were walking along streets, creating traffic problems in the area as streets were blocked off.
Stockton Police told KCRA 3 that the students arrested ranged from 14 to 18-years-old; the juveniles were cited to their parents, while the one 18-year-old arrested was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail.
“We do support the freedom to protest peacefully and freedom of speech,” said a spokesperson for Stockton Police Department. “While the majority of the students were peaceful today, we don’t condone the violence which was committed by a small handful of students. It’s unacceptable to batter a police officer and especially to take an officer’s baton.”
Police said the demonstrations became chaotic when about 100 of the 300 students tried to leave the school by jumping over a fence and other students created traffic problems by blocking off streets, according to Action News Now. The demonstrations proceeded to turn violent when students started throwing rocks and damaged both police and citizen vehicles.
One high school student said the protests were important because school shootings could take place anywhere.
“This is a very important thing to me and to all of us. Obviously, this matters. Yeah, it wasn’t in Stockton, but there have been shootings in Stockton just like the Cleveland shooting. This is important to every school. No matter where we are, this could happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Florida; it doesn’t matter if we’re in Stockton. No matter where we are there could be a gun on campus and someone could get hurt,” the student, Haley Wolfe, said.
Caslita Jones, a local college student, said she was on her way to classes when her car was hit by multiple rocks, shattering her rear windshield.
“I’m about to cry,” she said.
Officials with the Stockton Unified School District released the following statement after the protest:
“Stockton Unified is proud of the peaceful, well organized protests carried out by students on its high school campuses this week. We regret that on Friday some students from one of the high schools left a peaceful protest, walked off campus and created a disruption in the neighborhood. Such activity is not reflective of the values of the overwhelming majority of SUSD students and will not be tolerated.”
Principals at some schools allowed the protests but some districts threatened to discipline those who joined the wave of walkouts.
Superintendent Curtis Rhodes, of Texas’ Needville Independent School District, said students who left class would be suspended for three days. Even if they had permission from their parents.
Rhodes wrote in a letter to families and on social media:
“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative. We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty or five hundred students involved.”
It is much like the NFL National Anthem protests. Protest on your own time.