Arizona students gather at Capitol to protest gun violence

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PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona high school students gathered Wednesday on campuses and at the state Capitol in Phoenix to protest the kind of gun violence that recently killed 17 young people in Florida.

With the Phoenix high school district and some others in the area on spring break, 17-minute walkouts were held at a scattering of schools. Tucson High School students sat in front of their school before walking out to call for gun safety.

In Phoenix, one elementary school planned to make it a "day of caring" to support its older students who were participating in a walkout by young people nationwide.

Principal Mike Duff of the K-8 Madison Traditional Academy said many seventh- and eighth-graders were taking part.

About 400 boys from the Jesuit-run Brophy College Preparatory Academy and some 1,000 girls from Xavier College Preparatory private academy next door held separate outdoor events.

The name of each teen killed in the Florida shooting was called out as the Brophy students stood silently.

Student leader Nik Kirk, a 17-year-old junior, said the event was organized through the school's Advocacy Club to let the teens make a statement about gun violence.

Kirk told his classmates that they "cannot stand idle as others' schooling becomes endangered and fatal." He asked: "Does an AR-15 echo the message of Christ?"

Brophy President Adria Renke said she was proud of the students, adding that fostering advocacy is part of the school's mission.

At Mountain Ridge High School in suburban Glendale, students walked to the football field where some stood in silence and others chanted "enough is enough." There also was a protest at Apollo High School in Glendale.

Arizona State Rep. Daniel Hernandez said in a Twitter post he stood "in solidarity with all of the young people walking to demand action on gun violence."

The Tucson Democrat survived a mass shooting in which then-Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was critically wounded. Hernandez was an intern for Giffords and came to her aid when she was shot in the head in 2011 at a public event.


Paul Davenport contributed to this report.

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