Thousands of Queens students join national protest against gun violence

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Nearly the entire student body of Cardozo High School in Bayside left classes at 10 a.m. to mark the time of the fatal shootings in Parkland, Fla. Borough President Melinda Katz (lower l.) spoke in support of the rally.
Students flooded 223rd Street in front of Cardozo High School without incident.
At times, the short student protest, which lasted 17 minutes to mark the 17 deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, seemed reminiscent of earlier, turbulent times of student unrest.
This poster is signed with the names of the students killed in last month's attack.
Queens wasn't the only borough to host student protests. At PS 51 and the Beacon School in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, this student didn't need to use her bullhorn to rally fellow classmates.
In Manhattan, students picked up the theme "Not One More," a prominent hashtag in the anti-gun violence effort.

Thousands of students at high schools across Queens joined a national 17-minute walkout protesting inaction from government officials on gun control in response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that killed 14 teenagers and three adults.

More than 1,000 students at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside stepped out of the classroom Wednesday and were joined in protest by counterparts at Bayside High School, the Al-Iman School for Islamic students in Jamaica, and the World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing.

Mackenzie Mattone, a junior, organized the walkout at Cardozo and was joined by Borough President Melinda Katz, who praised the efforts of students like Mattone for taking action and urging fellow students to register to vote.

“As students in high school, we should not have to worry about getting shot while sitting at our desk or walking through our halls,” Mackenzie said. “I cannot imagine the moment where I witness my own best friends being killed before me and know there is nothing I can do. But what if there is something we can all do? We can make our voices heard, we can make a difference, we can force legislators to listen to the demands of students who want to live another day, we can register to vote.”

Katz got behind the #enough movement by saying the country cannot wait for the next mass shooting to pass “meaningful” gun control laws.

“These are kids asking adults to do what we should be doing, which is to protect them. They need to be protected here in New York, but also in Washington where the laws have to change,” Katz said.

Ruben Frischeisen, 16, said the government has been setting its priorities wrong and disregarding the well-being of it citizens for too long.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful what the NRA and government are doing, I think change is long overdue, stemming back to the ‘90s with Columbine,” Ruben said, referring to the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine, Colo., High School, where 15 were killed, including the two gunmen. “It’s 2018 and we’re still dealing with the same issue of gun violence.

Sean Friedman, a junior at Bayside High School, said he was disappointed in the school administra­tion’s perceived opposition to the demonstration.

According to Sean, 400 students took part in the walkout but they were rushed in and out of the building without the chance to share their thoughts publicly.

“We never got a chance to speak our mind. Kids had signs. Kids stood out in the cold. Parents stood there with signs. Everyone had something to say. We weren’t heard. It was unsuccessful. To me this is only the beginning of something bigger. I want to make a bigger demonstrat­ion,” Sean said. “I had a meeting with the principal yesterday and it seemed like they just wanted nothing to do with this. They got us in and then out. It was sad how little time we got. Not enough was said. Not enough of us were heard.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Updated 7:29 am, March 15, 2018
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Joey from Bayside says:
Although that looks to be a lot of kids there, I'm a student and literally all of my friends were there not because we believe in gun control but because we left with the perceived notion that it would just be 17 minutes of silence to honor the victims of Parkland. I didn't expect them to be standing on the graves of parkland victims to promote their agenda. Another thing is, most people went out there because they had the opportunity to cut classes, (its in the middle of everyones day third going on fourth period).. So not only did people manage to cut one class, they managed to cut two and they were excused for and since it went on for so long because they gave unexpected speeches we skipped the majority of fourth period as well. They even closed some classes like gym since those teachers had to be used as deans outside to make sure no one was cutting, so everyone in gym were bascally forced to walk outside or stand in the halls... Believe me a huge minority of the people outside were for gun control and most of my friends and I will not be voting democrat next election.
March 15, 2:07 am
Peoplekillpeople from Queens says:
Its funny. I went to school in Nyc in the 80s and 90s and I have always heard of guns and knives being bought into the schools over here but no politician really didn't care about it. Now that it is happening in small town America, it is now getting the attention? Its like us city kids were not worth the trouble all this time. All they ever did for us was poor attempts at putting metal detectors in a few schools and giving us some out of shape or old security guards to protect us. The metal detectors never worked anyway because they could just get a friend to slip the weapon in from a back door that can't be closed up for fire safety purposes. The politicians here never cared about us. Meanwhile our schools are packed to 2x the amount of kids and that is a HUGE saftey hazard! Do they realize that if this same shooting happened in our schools over here, that it would be 4x more deadly because there are too many kids in the schools and no way for them to all run out of the doors in a timely manner due to the number of kids in the schools? And mayor dumb dumb wants to just keep packing people into this city without seeing the long term consequences of overpopulation? If all of nyc and long island had to evacuate for some reason, most would not make it out alive. So go ahead idiot politicians, keep packing them into the city and think about consequences later. Our overcrowded city with overcrowded schools is NOT a good thing.

Also, the parents or guardians should start taking responsibility for their childrens actions and stop saying "he's a good boy who wouldnt do anything to hurt anybody". Stop being in denial! I have a teenage daughter and I am constantly aware of her moods at all times. I can see the signs of her changing or having a bad time with someone or something. I keep an opened mind to everything that she has to say to me and I don't ignore her when she's feeling sad or depressed. I try to give her the best advice I can give her and let her know that I am always here for her and things are never as bad as they seem. I am in favor of some type of gun control in this country but you have to also be aware that guns don't kill people. People kill people. Just look at our terrorists friends for example, they use pressure cookers and airplanes and cars to carry out their attacks but are we going to ban or have people take a mental test before buying pressure cookers, planes or cars? Probably not. So the guns laws should be tightened, however, you can't take away a constitutional right from people.
March 15, 4:09 am
Lou from Bayside says:
Organized by ultra left UFT, babykillers at planned parenthood ,evil george soros etc etc. What would happen if only guns were in the hands of homosexual Obama, the satan worhipping Clintons Bill snd the dirty lesbian from Chappaqua, dog face Cuomo, dope fiend Diblasio and there disgusting ilk. Long live President Trump! Long live the "deplorables" who will protect this country from tyrants!
March 17, 11:29 am

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