Providence students march to State House to demand action on gun violence

Photo: Scott Del Sole/WPRI-TV

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of students from Classical High School and other schools in Providence walked out of class Wednesday and made their way downtown to join a rally hoping to put an end to gun violence in schools.

The students began their march at 12:45 p.m., nearly three hours after a nationwide walkout event on the one-month anniversary of deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

In both instances, students sought to take a stand against gun violence and demand action from local and national leaders.

The walkouts in the city were organized by the Providence Student Union, which has members in every high school in the city.

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence also took part in the rally at the State House, saying it plans to announce a legislative push known as the Safe Schools Act.

Police at the State House said it’s estimated about 700 people attended the rally.

Students in other districts took part in a walkout at 10 a.m., which lasted for 17 minutes for the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. In East Providence, while some students walked out to rally against gun violence, others protested in favor of Second Amendment rights.

Gov. Gina Raimondo was also at the rally. She commended students for speaking out and promising to do her part.

“If anybody wants to know what change looks like, it looks like this,” Raimondo said. “Some of us have been pounding away in this building for a while, and to see the young people with the energy and optimism and talent that you have, it keeps us all going.”

But not all officials were in agreement on the issue. Rep. Michael Chippendale said people need to understand that criminals will be criminals, and he thinks it’s more important to better enforce current legislation.

“We need to sit down at the table and come up with political solutions,” Chippendale said. “I think fire arm statues in the state of Rhode Island have been proven, time and time again, and by every measure, some of the safest and strictest in the nation.”

Despite their differences, both Raimondo and Chippendale agreed that it was impressive to see high school students in this magnitude join the conversation.