PARKLAND, Fla. -- Students streamed out of their classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Wednesday morning as part of a nationwide protest to mark the one-month anniversary of the school shooting that killed 17 people and injured 15 others.
They walked past the school fence, now covered in signs offering messages of support from across the country, and past mementos and flowers left for fallen classmates. They gathered on the school's football field, where they chanted "MSD" and embraced in a massive circle as a song written by several students after the shooting played over speakers.
"They're not gonna knock us down. We'll get back up again."
And then, mixed with students from a nearby middle school, they walked to Pine Trails Park down the street, where they promised to keep the pressure on America's politicians to change the nation's gun laws and prevent another shooting like the one at their school that rocked the country exactly one month earlier.
"We're not just kids anymore because we looked down the barrel of a gun" said a student addressing her classmates from a stage at the park. "We took all the pain and all the suffering and turned it into this."
Similar scenes unfolded across South Florida and the country as students walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. on Wednesday to urge Congress to take action against gun violence. In a sign that the youth-led gun-control movement sparked by the Parkland shooting may have staying power, they joined young people from more than 2,500 schools across America in 17-minute demonstrations in remembrance of the 17 students and staff members killed at Stoneman Douglas High.
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The protesters -- some of whom began walking out as early as 8:30 a.m. -- are calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and for expanding background checks to all gun sales, among other proposals. They also oppose any legislation that would "aim to fortify our schools with more guns."
In South Florida, demonstrations were planned at more than a dozen schools and colleges, including Miami Dade College, iPrep Academy, Miami Country Day School and Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High in Miami-Dade as well as Hollywood Central Elementary and Coral Springs High School in Broward County, according to Empower's website.
The demonstrations were expected to take a variety of forms across the country. Some students planned to circle their school holding hands while others planned to sing songs or read the names of people killed by gun violence, Empower said. Some gathered in Washington, D.C., where they turned their backs on the White House. Thousands more were expected to flood into the Capitol later in the day, according to CNN.
At Cooper City High School, students set up 17 empty desks, according to Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS4. Back in Parkland, students at Westglades Middle School left campus and walked over to Stoneman Douglas, where families looked on the football field in support and the media craned to watch and listen.