In the weeks following the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, wave after wave of student-led protests formed and broke across the country, culminating in a national memorial walkout on February 21. Every day since, high-school and middle-school students across the country have in some way protested for stronger gun laws.
And even while they act now, the students are also preparing for the next few months. The March For Our Lives, the National School Walkout, and the organizers of the Women’s March hope to unite thousands of disparate, nationwide, high-school student-led groups with three national protests on March 14, March 24, and April 20. (Over 700 groups have registered the dates and locations of their protests on the March For Our Lives website; over 1,300 have registered with the National School Walkout.) Beyond that, though, each school or district—that is, the student organizers who populate them—has been organizing on its own. The ACLU and professional organizers have published how-to guides to lend a hand; some students are in contact with local community organizations. But in most cases, the students are bolstered simply by the support they find over social media.
One of these hubs of support and amplification appeared the day after the February 14 shooting, the Twitter account Student Walkout Against Gun Violence. Since then, it has kept an ongoing ledger of local actions as they build into a ground swell—something that would have been impossible for high-school students a decade ago. The account is helmed by a 19-year-old college student in Southern California who started it after she saw the videos from inside Douglas High School—also over social media. “I couldn’t sleep after I watched them,” she told me. The next day, when she saw photos of high-school students protesting across the country, she and a friend agreed they were tired of not doing anything. “I was like, ‘Well, I might as well give [students] a platform where everyone can connect and organize so that the movement is a little bit more powerful.”
The student, who prefers to stay unnamed to keep the focus on the protesters she’s amplifying, has been receiving daily—hourly, even—dispatches from high-school protests and walkouts around the country since the day after the shooting. With the help of her roommate and a friend, the student compiles photos and videos of each action, offering the resulting summary to the account’s 25,000 followers. Each dispatch is liked or retweeted hundreds, sometimes thousands, of times. She has connected reporters from Canada and London with students in California and Washington, who have appeared on international television. When a New Jersey reporter asked her if she’d heard of any kids organizing in Sussex County, she directed the reporter to two girls she remembered had reached out earlier.