Maine students staged walkouts and held rallies across the state Thursday in a second day of student protests against gun violence.

“We are fighting for our own lives,” said Sophia Fagone, a senior at Portland High School and one of hundreds of students from Portland High and neighboring Baxter Academy for Technology and Science who flooded City Hall Plaza. “Obviously, politicians in Congress are more concerned about gun protection than the lives of my generation.”

The walkouts and rallies were planned for Wednesday, but snowy weather closed many Maine schools. Only a handful of Maine events were held because of the snowstorm. The walkouts were held one month after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and staff dead. The massacre has prompted a nationwide dialogue, driven by the activism of young people, on changing gun laws and making schools safer.

“All of these deaths and no action,” said Maya Miller-Edwards, a senior at Falmouth High School, referring to the more than 100 people killed in school shootings since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. “I’m just really angry and tired of hearing about kids dying.”

The Portland students, many carrying signs marked with “We stand with Parkland,” “#neveragain,” “Are we next?” and “Protect kids not guns,” overflowed the steps of City Hall. Some sat on the pavement and held hands, others chanted “Enough is enough!”

At the end of the rally, they held a minutes-long silence, broken only by the sound of sea gulls crying, before walking back to the two downtown high schools.


About 50 adult supporters, including Mayor Ethan Strimling and Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, stood along the street, facing the students. Some held signs, including “We are proud of you,” and “Somethin’ Happenin’ Here.”

The nationwide #Enough National School Walkout to End Gun Violence was organized by a student-led branch of the Women’s March. News coverage has described Wednesday’s coordinated event as one of the largest student demonstrations since the Vietnam War.

At South Portland High School, about 500 students – more than half the student body – quietly streamed out of the main entrance at 10 a.m. and gathered in the front courtyard for a moment of silence before reading the names of the Parkland victims.

“I don’t want more kids to be murdered in school, where they think it’s a safe place, because America doesn’t want to do anything about its precious guns,” South Portland freshman Quinn Cardale said.

Senior Erica Glidden urged students to sign a letter that would be sent to Gov. Paul LePage. Students cheered when she said, “He’s representing our state and should be doing a better job.”

In Cape Elizabeth, about 200 students rallied in the high school parking lot, with songs, speeches and reading the names of the Parkland victims.


“I think a lot of kids just think they can’t do anything … or think they’re just one person and don’t have any power,” said Cape senior Tony Inhorn, 18. “Use your voice. Make your opinion heard. Register to vote. That is the way change happens.”

Fellow rally organizer Christie Gillies, 18, said the issue wasn’t about peers agreeing on gun policy, but about all of them being informed and active government participants. For that reason, she said, they urged students to register to vote, and handed out registration cards during the walkout.

At Biddeford High School, dozens of students walked out the front doors and gathered around the school bell. A student read aloud the name and story of each victim at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, ringing the bell once between each name.

Yarmouth and York high schools held their walkouts Wednesday, since those schools did not close for the storm. Impromptu demonstrations were held by students in Portland and Freeport on Wednesday, both drawing 25 to 50 people, but those students said they still intended to participate in school walkouts on Thursday.

At protests across the nation, students left class at 10 a.m. local time for at least 17 minutes – one minute for each of the dead in Florida. At some schools, students didn’t go outside but lined the hallways, gathered in gyms and auditoriums or wore orange, the color used by the movement against gun violence, or maroon, the school color at Stoneman Douglas.

An afternoon rally organized by Educators Against Gun Violence was scheduled for 4 p.m. at Portland City Hall. Speakers include several teachers, Portland Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana, Chief Sauschuck and gubernatorial candidate Mark Eves.


Students and activists said they also planned to participate in March For Our Lives events on March 24, a nationwide event promoted by Parkland survivors.

Students have vowed to remain engaged and politically active beyond the marches.

“A lot of us are still 17, but some are 18 years old,” said Fagone, of Portland.

“I think you’ll be seeing them in the voting booths.”

Staff Writers Kelley Bouchard and Gillian Graham, and Forecaster Staff Writers Jocelyn Van Saun and Kate Irish Collins contributed to this report.

Noel K. Gallagher can be reached at 791-6387 or at:

Twitter: noelinmaine

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