School district limits media access to Charleston walkouts against gun violence 

Students at various schools walked out of their classrooms anyway

click to enlarge Students at the joint North Charleston campus of Academic Magnet High School and School of the Arts stand outside of their school building during the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018.

Adam Manno

Students at the joint North Charleston campus of Academic Magnet High School and School of the Arts stand outside of their school building during the National School Walkout on March 14, 2018.

Authorities turned away reporters covering Wednesday's National School Walkout protests at campuses throughout the Charleston area as students tried to make their voices heard on issues of gun violence and common sense gun reform.

Students congregated outside for a little over 20 minutes at the joint campus of School of the Arts and Academic Magnet High. They held signs as they largely stood in silence, occasionally interrupted by a student leader reading aloud the names of the 17 lives lost in Parkland, Fla. where on Feb. 14, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz walked into the school with a legally-purchased AR-15 assault rifle and carried out the massacre.

They were not allowed to leave campus and media was not allowed inside to photograph the walkout per Charleston County School District orders, according to officers stationed outside the gate.
The school district did not issue guidelines to students or to media in the days leading up to the 17-minute walkouts planned by local student organizers in solidarity with the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Some students were told to stick to the confines of their campuses by school administrators. On Wednesday morning, members of the media were also turned away at the gates at like North Charleston High and James Island Charter High.

Student organizer Jonathan Hudson of Wando High School said that his school's administrators were specifically concerned about the safety of the nearly 4,000 students in exiting various buildings in the property.

"While the original plan was to walk outside, we had to compromise to receive the school’s cooperation," Hudson wrote in an e-mail to CP Tuesday afternoon.

"Charleston County School District worked with local law enforcement agencies to keep all visitors off school property during the time of the walkouts in order to maximize safety and security for our students and staff," said school district spokesperson Andrew Pruitt in an e-mail later in the day.


The walkouts, a loosely organized effort by the national Women's March organization, were planned "to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship," according to the Women's March website.

On March 9, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a law raising the age limit to purchase a firearm in the state from 18 to 21 and extending the waiting period to three days. The law, however, also allows for certain teachers to be armed on campus. Scott disagreed with the provision, but called it a compromise, according to The New York Times.


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