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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Students walk out of Mayo High School in protest of nation's gun laws

Students walk out of Mayo High School in protest of nation's gun laws

Students at Mayo High School joined thousands of others across the U.S. on Wednesday in a staged walkout to protest the nation's gun laws.

Students gathered outside for 17 minutes, one minute for each person killed in last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

"You shouldn't be afraid of going to school and getting an education," one student said. Another asked, "Why is it so easy to get an AR-15? Why do we make the laws so easy to get a gun to possess?"

About 200 students participated in the walkout at Mayo, said Rochester Public Schools spokesperson Heather Nessler. At John Marshall, a group of students met by the flagpole. Both protests were peaceful, she said. 

Prior to the demonstrations, the district had issued a statement supporting the students' rights to protest peacefully:

Rochester Public Schools administrators are aware of our students’ desires to create a peaceful statement against gun violence today with a 17-minute walk out at our high school levels. The principals at our high schools have had conversations with their staff and student leaders regarding this planned walk out. We support our students’ with their expression of free speech today. Students will not receive a consequence for a 17-minute peaceful protest. 

In a live video recording from the Post-Bulletin, RPS Superintendent Michael Muñoz told a reporter on the scene that he was supportive of the students exercising their freedom of speech.

"We have some really good leaders in our student body," said Muñoz. "I am glad they are taking on this very important topic. Hopefully together, we can get something done to address what's happening across the country."

There have been at least 239 school shootings — resulting in 138 deaths — since the massacre at Sandy Hook in 2012, according to a New York Times analysis. Sixteen of them have been classified as mass shootings.

Cover photo via Twitter / Maxx Conte

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