Local students to join in ‘National School Walkout' against gun violence

Thousands of students from across the country, including here in Washington, will rally for school safety and gun violence.

SEATTLE — Thousands of students across the country are set to walk out of class on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

More than 2,500 groups across the country have signed up for the “National School Walkout,” a student-led protest aimed at bolstering the discussion about gun-control measures.

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In the wake of student rallies against school shootings, some Western Washington students want to bring more attention to shootings that take place outside of school.

Niko Battle, a junior at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, and Alicia Heia, a senior at Ingraham High School in Seattle, have been hard at work for more than three weeks organizing the "We Won’t Be Next Seattle" rally scheduled for Friday.

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“Research has shown that violence can affect how students perform in school,” Battle told KIRO 7, “and how they live the rest of their lives.”

On Wednesday morning, KIRO 7 was at Occidental Park in Seattle’s Pioneer Square as the students met the vendors who will set up for the rally on Friday. The idea is for students to walk out of class at 10 a.m. and make their way to Occidental Park by noon.

According to a map from NationalSchoolWalkout.net, more than 40 schools in the greater Puget Sound area are are participating in the walkout.

At least 30 schools are expected to participate in the Seattle rally.

Organizers of Friday's local event told KIRO 7 they chose Pioneer Square so students from all over can reach it by public transit.

It’s just a few blocks from light rail, bus stops, and the ferry terminal. Students from Bainbridge Island have confirmed they'll be there.

Both Battle and Heia were connected through the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. They both participated in last month's March For Our Lives against school shootings.

But they’ve seen how violence outside school impacts students and they want to give those students a voice.

On March 28, a shooting at a Burien apartment complex parking lot killed two girls, ages 13 and 19.

“I myself hear about this and feel very sad,” Heia said. “But some people hear a gunshot on their street go off at night.  And that's something they deal with daily.”

“And it's that type of fear that students in our community live with day in and day out,” Battle said. “And it's that type of fear that us students are trying to address with the event on Friday.”

The two say the entire community is the audience and that this is a moment in a movement.  They hope to have 2,000 to 5,000 students attend "We Won’t Be Next Seattle."

“Our goal is to create passion in the youth and students of Seattle,” Heia said, “and to encourage them to get involved at whatever level they want to.”