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Students in East Baltimore Walk Out of School

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Students in Baltimore and around the nation walked out of classes Wednesday to protest gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school last month. About 200 students walked out of Hampstead Hill Academy in East Baltimore chanting, "No justice, no peace, no AR-15s!"

Lockers slammed shut in the hallways as kindergartners to eighth graders threw on their coats, marched out of school, and crossed the street to Patterson Park at 10 Wednesday morning for 17 minutes, one for each of the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Jainicole Bourgerie, , a 4th-grader, says she doesn’t feel safe at school.

“I’m afraid someone is going to come in and start shooting,” she said.

Her mother, Khloe Bourgerie, came to school to march with her.

"My children are scared. They don't want to go to school," said Bourgerie. “I never lived to worry about getting killed in school. That never happened in my era.”

Asiane Phillips, a 7th-grade student organizer at the school, called on Gov. Larry Hogan to do more for Baltimore.

“Act," she demanded through a megaphone. "We are asking you to lead Maryland lawmakers to give Baltimore the mental health and trauma resources we need.”

Student organizers say they want to meet soon with Mayor Catherine Pugh and in May with Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa to talk about making Baltimore’s students and residents safer.

The students were among those at dozens of schools throughout the Baltimore region who participated in the walk-out. Harford County students, however, were forbidden from joining the protests. School Superintendent Barbara Canavan sent a letter to parents and students March 7, warning that students who walked out of classes would face disciplinary measures.

The ACLU of Maryland responded with a letter Monday threatening legal action if students rights were violated.

The ACLU letter from staff attorneys Sonia Kumar and Gina Elleby expressed concern that the "tone and content" of Canavan's letter suggested students who did walk out "may be punished more severely for leaving class that would be the case for any other unexcused absence.

Nonetheless, students at several schools, including Havre de Grace and John Carroll high schools did walk out for 17 minutes.

Hampstead Hill Academy students walking out #march4ourlives #Baltimore A post shared by Dominique Bonessi (@dominiquebonessi) on Mar 14, 2018 at 7:00am PDT