ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Over the last few weeks a nationwide push led by high school students to enact gun control legislation has prompted students across the Twin Cities to walk out of class and demand action from lawmakers, culminating in a march this weekend in Washington, D.C. that many metro-area students plan to attend.
Thursday afternoon at least 250 Minnesota high school students left the state in cars, buses and planes, all headed east for this Saturday’s "March for Our Lives."
While supportive, the St. Paul Public School district declined to sponsor the effort to get students to the national rally--so leaders at Saint Anne’s Episcopal Church happily took on the cause.
“It shouldn’t be a partisan issue, it should be an issue of safety,” said Anna Dupont a Henry Sibley High School student.
Inside the church parking lot a large group of Dupont’s peers said goodbye to their family for the weekend and boarded a charter bus for the mission.
“It’s been really daunting to even have the slightest chance of someone coming into my school and hurting my friends, myself and my teachers," said Henry Sibley Sophomore, Emily Klein. "It's just scary and I don’t think anyone should ever feel that way at school.”
Klein’s father, state Sen. Matthew Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, who has five high-school aged children, will join his daughter for the national March for Our Lives rally.
“They’re asking us why this is and why we haven’t fixed it by now, and that’s pulled me to go with them today,” Klein said.
Others who push for an end to mass shootings are Twin Cities Metro parents and teachers.
“It’s going to help the next generation to say what they think and stand up for their rights and hopefully make changes in gun laws,” said parent and chaperone Annette Youness.
“It’s not even a question, they have to feel safe every day--we all need to feel safe every day," said Katie Bernardy, a self-proclaimed “Sibley student supporter.”
"My number one priority is their safety so I can worry about educating them,” she continued.
The nationwide migration to D.C. comes after 17 lives were lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Ever since the Valentine’s Day tragedy, the call for an end to gun violence has echoed loudly across the country.
“This is not something 14-, 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids should have to do,” said Joe Campbell, who helped fundraise more than $30,000 on a GoFundMe page he launched through Protect Minnesota for students to make the trip.
The March for Our Lives is expected to draw about 500,000 people, including a wide array of celebrities to Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday. Another 800 sister marches are taking place worldwide the same day, including a march to the state Capitol here in Minnesota.