An estimated 1,000 students at Evanston Township High School jammed the stands at the school’s football stadium Wednesday morning to participate in the nationwide student protest against guns.
Chanting “NRA go away,” they poured out of the school at 10 a.m. and crossed Church Street from the main campus as police blocked off traffic as a safety measure.
For nearly 30 minutes, they kept coming, as adult supporters stood by and applauded.
Once all the seats in the stadium were filled, they lined the fences and hooted approval as speakers, led by Student Senate President Emma Stein, called for mandatory background checks, mental health assessments, restrictions on the sale of assault rifles, prohibitions on concealed and open carry permits, abolishing sales of bumpstocks, and additional restrictions on gun permits.
Emma Stein, ETHS senior and president of the school's Student Senate
One speaker noted that since the Columbine shootings in 1999, at about the same time that many of the students were born, more than 25 mass shootings have occurred in this country while little effort has been made by legislators at both the state and federal levels to deal with the resulting tragedies.
Another noted that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, to boos from the crowd, had just vetoed anti-gun legislation passed by the state legislature.
After the speeches, the students were urged to use their cell phones to call politicians to let their views be known. A list of their telephone numbers had been handed out to them as they entered the field.
When the protest ended, many of the students returned to the school to resume their classwork.