YAKIMA, Wash. -- About 20 people — including some students — demonstrated at the intersection of South 40th Avenue and Tieton Drive Wednesday in support of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
The gathering was one of hundreds of similar demonstrations around the country Wednesday.
The national demonstration, called “Stand for the Second,” was organized by Will Riley, an 18-year-old New Mexico high school student, in response to the wave of student-led gun reform protests held after the massacre at a Parkland, Fla., high school in February.
On Wednesday morning, he led “Stand for the Second.” Riley said in a Facebook video that the demonstration included 300 schools in roughly 40 states, but those figures could not be verified.
“Unlike the previous walkouts, these are for the Constitution and for the Second Amendment,” Riley said.
“What we’re asking for is that we have equal representation to the other side on this issue,” he said. “The best way we can make our voices heard is to do this in the same platform.”
The demonstrations were significantly smaller than the National Student Walkouts March 14 and the March for Our Lives 10 days later, with participation in the hundreds rather than the tens of thousands. The schools tended to be in rural areas, from Oregon to Pennsylvania.
The local demonstration’s coordinator, Aubrie Bosworth, a junior at Eisenhower High School, said she chose to walk out of school without alerting school officials after seeing their response to the walkouts on March 14. That day, thousands of students in schools across the nation walked out of classrooms to protest gun violence.
“When there was the nationally planned walkout, my school decided to do a mandatory assembly and put security guards on all of the doors during the time that the walkout was supposed to go on,” she said. “I was offended that they’d stopped the kids from exercising their First Amendment rights ... and with this one, it was obvious that the school wouldn’t support any kind of walkout ... so we decided to do this by ourselves.”
Yakima School District spokeswoman Kirsten Fitterer said staff members were placed by school exits Wednesday to inform any students participating in the walkout that they could face disciplinary action.
“We respect the students’ perspectives, but it’s still an unexcused absence,” she said. “We feel our students are very educated on our attendance policies, and (until today) students have chosen to not walk out of class and remain in school.”
Information from wire services was included in this report.