Students nationwide stage walkouts for stricter gun laws after last month’s deadly school shooting in Florida

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Students across the country — from middle school to college — began planned walkouts Wednesday, calling on state and federal legislators to enact stricter gun laws one month after the mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Seventeen students and staff members were killed at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. On Wednesday, 3,000 schools across the nation planned to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim.

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas, two walkouts took place. Citing safety concerns, student government officials and administrators urged students not to leave campus, but to walk to the football field with teachers. Some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

As students made their way to the football field, past a sculpture of the school Eagle mascot, they walked hand in hand or with their arms around each other. Only a few carried placards. There were no chants. Helicopters buzzed overhead.

David Hogg, 17, one of several students at the school who’ve gained national prominence for advocating gun control, live streamed the walkout on his YouTube channel.

“We have to stand up now and take action,” Hogg said. He interviewed several of his classmates.

“This is about the need for change,” another student told Hogg.

Organized by the youth branch of the Women’s March, called Empower, the National School Walkout is urging Congress to take meaningful action on gun violence and pass federal legislation that would ban assault weapons and require universal background checks for gun sales.

In Massachusetts and Ohio, students said they would head to the statehouse to lobby for new gun regulations. In Washington, D.C., hundreds of students gathered outside the White House, holding signs and marching quietly.

In Maryland, students at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute poured out the back doors of the school and onto the football field. Many of them laid down on the football field. Hundreds of Baltimore students left school to march to City Hall, calling for an end to gun violence in schools and on the city’s streets.

In Illinois, high school students from Barrington to Plainfield to Naperville to Chicago have worked with peers and school administrators and prepared signs and speeches as part of the national movement designed to prevent mass shootings and gun violence that have devastated their schools and communities for decades.

With nearly 3,000 walkouts planned across the country — at elementary schools, high schools and universities — organizers published a “tool kit” online that offered students tips on how to organize, get support from parents and guardians and share information on social media.

Earlier this week, Robert W. Runcie, superintendent of Broward County schools in Florida, notified parents he had instructed staff not to interfere with peaceful student-led protests.

“Such occasions are teachable moments, during which students can demonstrate their 1st Amendment right to be heard,” Runcie wrote in a letter to parents. “In the event students walk out or gather, school principals and assigned staff will remain with students in a designated walkout area, so that supervision is in place.”

Over the last month, students across Florida and the nation have staged spontaneous walkouts, with some leading to disciplinary action. Two weeks after the Parkland shooting, dozens of students at Ingleside Middle School in the Phoenix area were given one-day suspensions after they walked off campus.

In Needville, Texas, 20 miles southwest of Houston, Superintendent Curtis Rhodes warned students that anyone who left class would be suspended for three days, even if they had permission from their parents.

“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative,” Rhodes wrote in a letter to parents posted on social media. “We will discipline no matter if it is one, fifty, or five hundred students involved.”

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union issued advice for students who walk out, saying schools can’t legally punish them more harshly because of the political nature of their message. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas, some lawyers said they will provide free legal help to students who are punished.

In Parkland, school officials urged students not to leave campus.

“We’re just trying to protect the students,” said Jaclyn Corin, 17, the high school’s junior class president. “We’re telling everyone not to leave campus, but we can’t stop them.”

Hogg said he worried students would be “a group of soft targets” if they left campus.

Yet some students balked at the idea of a chaperoned walkout, saying they wanted to get off campus and spread their message to the broader public.

When the first bell rang Wednesday at the high school, Susana Matta Valdivieso was not sitting in Spanish class. Instead, the 17-year-old junior was hauling a stack of handwritten placards across a community park in the hope that her classmates would eventually come outside and join her.

“I’m nervous and excited because I’ve never spoken in front of a crowd of people before,” Valdivieso said with laughter as she leafed through the speech she had typed up the night before.

While student government leaders and administrators were urging Parkland students to remain on campus and walk with teachers to the school football field, Valdivieso was hoping to coax students off school grounds to take part in a public rally at the nearby North Community Park.

“This is a student-led movement,” Valdivieso said after dispatching two close friends into the school with a plan to lead their classmates outside. “We want to communicate our message to the press and the public.”

In Florida, the Parkland students’ protests in recent weeks have seen some results.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott, in a rebuke of the National Rifle Assn., signed into law a measure that, among other things, raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 and bans the sale or possession of “bump stocks,” which allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic machine guns.

The walkouts on Wednesday are among several protests planned for coming weeks. The March for Our Lives rally for school safety is expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital on March 24, its organizers said. And another round of school walkouts is planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.

By Jenny Jarvie and Kurtis Lee/LaTimes

 

posted by The NON-Conformist

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School Takes Action Against Florida Teacher Who Secretly Hosted White Nationalist Podcast and Passed Ideologies Onto Students

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A 25-year-old social studies teacher in Florida has been secretly hosting a white nationalist podcast and bragging about espousing her views to students in the classroom, an exclusive report by Huffington Post has revealed.

Dayanna Volitich, an educator at Crystal River Middle School, was the voice behind white nationalist podcast “Unapologetic,” where she comfortably spewed her racist views under the pseudonym “Tiana Dalichov.” Since news of Volitich’s secret podcast came to light, the Citrus County School District announced she’s been removed from the classroom pending an investigation.

In her most recent podcast on Feb. 26, Volitich sided with a caller who spoke out against diversity in schools and challenged the idea that “a kid from Nigeria and a kid who came from Sweden are supposed to learn exactly the same” and are equally intelligent. Volitich went on to brag about teaching her ideology in the classroom and lying to administrators about it.

“I’ve had a couple instances where parents were concerned,” she said in the episode. “One, at the beginning of the year, emailed the principal over my head, [saying] ‘I’m worried that your teacher, she’s injecting political bias.’ ”

Volitich said the Crystal Rivers principal confronted her about the parent’s complaint, to which she lied and said it wasn’t true.

“She believed me and backed off,” she said.

In the same episode, Volitich agreed with her guest’s argument that more white nationalists should infiltrate the school system by becoming teachers, according to Huff Post.

“Children is very important,” she said. “The communists always knew that. They always wanted the minds of the children. That’s the future. So, if we can have more teachers in those positions, that would be great. And I do hear from teachers all the time, people who are closet ‘Red Ice’ listeners that support what we do and I think that’s fantastic. We need a lot more of that.”

Florida Teacher White Nationalist
Twitter screenshot.

The report was able to link Volitich to Dalichov using public records shared on social media and comparing it to personal information like her age, hometown and work history. “Tiana Dalichov’s” Twitter account conveniently went dark the news broke. She also removed the website for her podcast.

Scott Hebert, executive director of educational services for the district, said he was unable to confirm if Volitich was in fact “Dalichov” but noted the district was actively investigating statements she made and “checking the validity to see if they violate our code of ethics and policy.”

“She does not speak on behalf of the Citrus County School District,” Hebert said. “The views she’s listed [online] are really not in line with how our district operates.”

The statement posted to the district’s Facebook page read in part,

“On Friday, March 2, 2018 the Citrus County School District was made aware of a concerning podcast by a Huffington Post reporter. The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing. Pursuant to Florida Statute an open investigation and materials related to it are exempt from public record and cannot be discussed until the investigation is complete.”

Meanwhile, several commenters are calling for she to be fired.

Stephen Grayce wrote: “Seeing as she had a podcast and tweets were saved in screen shots, an “investigation” should take about 10 minutes. FIRE HER.”

Christine Walling added: “Fire her. Find out which other teachers were talking to her about infiltrating and indoctrinating our kids into their hate cult and gut them, too. We don’t want their kind near OUR kids.”

DC Paula noted: “If this is true, the only acceptable outcome of your investigation is permanent dismissal and loss of her teaching license.”

We will continue to update this story as more details become available.

By Tanasia Kenney/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Georgia Lawmakers Punish Delta Air Lines Over NRA Feud

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Republican lawmakers in Georgia made good on a threat to eliminate a proposed tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, after the carrier declined to reverse a decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association.

Earlier this week, Delta — the state’s largest private employer, with 33,000 workers statewide — was among numerous companies to announce that it would end discounts for NRA members in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Parkland, Fla., high school.

Ignoring warnings that taking on Delta could harm the state’s pro-business image, the GOP-controlled House, which had earlier approved a larger tax bill containing the exemption, voted 135-24 on Thursday for a new version stripped of the provision. Meanwhile, some experts have raised First Amendment concerns over the legislature’s punitive move.

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The NRA Can Only Be Stopped at the Ballot Box

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Have the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School changed the game? In the wake of the Parkland massacre that killed 17 children and educators, there’s no question the students have changed the national conversation. Survivors of this mass shooting have called “B.S.” on empty Republican pieties – rejecting “thoughts and prayers” and demanding that lawmakers take action to protect children’s lives from guns, instead of protecting their political futures from the wrath of the National Rifle Association.

Image: AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH

But Republican lawmakers have so far acted as if nothing has changed. As Parkland survivors looked on in tears, the Florida House this week voted against even debating legislation to curb assault rifles – and then had the audacity to vote to declare porn a threat to public health. President Trump, meanwhile, has decided to champion NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre’s reckless proposal to arm teachers at school.

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NRA Chief directs rant at Dems, FBI and Media

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Florida Governor Rick Scott Won’t Attend CNN Town Hall on Florida School Shooting

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Image: Mediate

This coming Wednesday, CNN will hold a televised town hall event on the recent horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The live event, which will be held at BB&T Center, will include classmates of the victims, parents, and members of the community. CNN also invited prominent Florida lawmakers and politicians to take part in the town hall.

While Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have all confirmed that they will attend the forum, the state’s Republican governor has told CNN he won’t be there.

“With only two weeks left of our annual legislative session, Governor Rick Scott will be in Tallahassee meeting with state leaders to work on ways to keep Florida students safe, including school safety improvements and keeping guns away from individuals struggling with mental illness,” Gov. Rick Scott’s office told CNN.

According to CNN, President Donald Trump has also declined the network’s invitation.

Following the deadly shooting, Parkland student Cameron Kasky said Scott had the blood of the 17 people who died on his hands.

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Rubio Defends NRA Ties, Says ‘Genie’s Out Of The Bottle’ On AR-15s

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During a tense interview aired Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) again rejected many Floridians’ criticism that certain gun control laws would have prevented Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

He also defended his ties to the National Rifle Association, and blamed congressional inaction regarding such mass shootings on “people just mov[ing] on.”

Rubio hasn’t personally attempted to address mass shootings through legislation, he said, because “we don’t fully understand everything that could’ve been done to prevent this.”

Much of the mourning following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, which left 17 dead and more injured, transformed with surprising speed into passionate political advocacy. And, perhaps aside from President Donald Trump, more of that passion has been directed at Rubio, a large beneficiary of the gun lobby’s support, than anyone else.

“I see this reported, it’s unfair, I’ve never said we can’t do anything,” Rubio said, repeating a point he made on the Senate floor Thursday. He added: “What I have said is that the proposals out there would not have prevented it, and that’s a fact.”

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