Coe College students join nationwide school walkout to protest Florida shootings

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- At least 200 Coe College students joined a nationwide school walkout protest on Wednesday in support of gun law changes.

A student addresses a crowd of about 200 at a protest at Coe College in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Students at the private college joined thousands nationwide in a walkout to protest the Florida high school shootings one month ago. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

Students marched out of class at exactly 10 a.m. and stayed out for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims who died in the Parkland, Florida shooting one month ago.

Sean Caldwell, a Coe senior who helped organize the rally on behalf of the Coe Human Rights Advocates group, said he was thinking he might get 30 students or so to take a break during the school day.

He was thrilled with the turnout on the day thousands of students nationwide organized similar events.

One surprise for the crowd was the two students who attended who had a personal connection to the events in Florida.

Freshman Paxton Thomas told the crowd he went to school about 40 minutes south of Parkland and might have competed as a wrestler against some of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the shootings happened.

He told the crowd students like him “just can’t live with this anymore.”

Samantha Bryant told the crowd her older brother goes to college in Parkland, Florida and when word came out of a shooting in that city, she spent more than an hour frantically trying to reach her brother to make sure he was ok.

Caldwell says this group of Cedar Rapids protesters, like all the groups nationwide, want show politicians things must change when it comes to the availability of weapons and school shootings.