ST. PAUL, Minn. - Thousands of high school students from St. Paul and surrounding districts came together on Wednesday, marching together to the state capitol to make a statement on gun violence.
"Teens around the nation just need to feel safe in their own schools, without having to risk their lives going there every day," said Ethan Thompson, a 10th grader from Cretin-Derham Hall High School.
Students from Cretin-Derham Hall joined Central High School students to lead the march through the city, ending at the capitol steps. Many students carried signs demanding lawmakers do something to make schools safer.
"I'm kind of sick and tired of our legislators not doing anything on gun control, but sending thoughts and prayers when we all know that did nothing in the past," said McKenzie Brown, a high school senior who joined the march from White Bear Lake."
"All of these schools are coming out here fighting for something that needs to change," said Amudalat Ajasa, a student at St. Paul Conservatory for Performance Arts. "I don't see how our higher-ups, our government, isn't seeing this is an issue for all of us. We don't feel safe going to school. That's an issue, that's a problem."
The march came the same day that Governor Mark Dayton unveiled his proposed "Safe and Secure Schools Act," calling for $15.9 million for safety enhancements in schools, including $5 million to provide mental health services for students in schools.
St. Paul students may also get more support from their school board. Board members are drafting a resolution for an upcoming vote that would support new gun safety measures, while also opposing calls to arm teachers.
St. Paul police estimate around 2,000 students participated in Wednesday's march, with as many as 5,000 gathering at the State Capitol. Students are hopeful the strength of those numbers can help their voices to be heard.
"I want some form of change for all the shootings that have been happening and safety for all students," said Cretin-Derham Hall senior Abigail Sticha. "That (lawmakers) see all of the people who want the change."
"Our voices are going to be heard, and this demonstration is just a step," Ajasa said.