'This is what democracy looks like' — 500 Ball State Cardinals walk out for gun control

Students and faculty line up along McKinley Avenue March 14, National Walk Out Day, for the Ball State Walk Out in protest of gun violence. The event was organized by BSU Democrats and elementary education professor Dr. James Stroud. Stroud made orange shirts that said "#NEVERAGAIN Books not Bullets" and bracelets that said "Enough" and "Never Again". UPD estimated 500 people participated in the event that honored the Parkland shooting victims. 

“Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Gun violence has got to go!” and "This is what democracy looks like" chanted students and faculty as they lined McKinley Avenue from the Scramble Light to the Ball Communication Building. 

Members of the Ball State community were out advocating for stricter gun laws for 17 consecutive minutes — one minute for each victim of the Parkland shooting. 

Many Cardinals took to twitter to showcase their support for a national cause.

Students and faculty across the country are participating in National Walkout Day to make a simple statement — #Enough.

Ball State University Police Chief Jim Duckham said around 500 people participated in the campus walkout. 

“With the freezing cold today I expected less people to come,” event organizer Darla Thomas said. “We had a way better turnout than expected.” 

Thomas, along with BSU Democrats, began planning this event prior to spring break, however, when they tried to reserve the University Green it was booked. They were told Dr. James Stroud, an elementary education professor, already reserved it at the same time for the same purpose. 

Thomas said they met with Stroud earlier in the week and decided to combine their events together, resulting in a greater turnout. 

Stroud made fluorescent orange shirts reading “#NEVERAGAIN Books not Bullets,” and gel bracelets with the words "Never Again" and "Enough." Students wearing Stroud's apparel could be seen up and down McKinley Avenue. 

“This is about school safety,” Stroud said. 

Many students also carried signs made both in Stroud’s classes or on their own in order to display their support.

Freshman theatrical studies major Chase Strange said for the past couple of years he has stood by and watched "the same thing happen."

“I’m here to put a foot forward and make a change,” Strange said.

Along with the walkout, 17 empty chairs rested in front of the Teachers College. Each chair had a picture of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim and a white or orange balloon tied to the back of it. At the end of the protest, the balloons were released into the sky. 

"It was a visual to show the end of 17 minutes, but the beginning of change," Stroud said in an email. 

Freshman Alexia Angel, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumna, went home to Parkland, Florida, over spring break to give support to her community. 

Angel said it brought comfort to her community knowing they had support even 1,200 miles away.

“We here are making a difference,” Angel said. 

Contact Gabbi Mitchell with comments at gnmitchell@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @Gabbi_Mitchell. Contact Hannah Gunnell with comments at hrgunnell@bsu.edu.  

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