MILWAUKEE - Students at Milwaukee's Rufus King High School held a walkout Friday afternoon, demanding a stop top gun violence after five people were shot outside the school on Tuesday.
The students are calling for more support from the school district as violence across the city has an impact on their lives.
"Make no mistake, every student here comes to school to prioritize their education," said student Brigid Flanders. "Both for themselves and the betterment of this very city, an unconscious act of bravery."
More than 100 students walked out about 30 minutes before the final bell to speak about the toll violence is taking on them. Many wore red to show their support to end gun violence, and walked to the football field for a news conference.
"Seeing all the people that came out, it really touched my heart," said senior class president Matthew Moore."
Milwaukee police said a social media beef between two girls escalated to a fight outside the school as a girl's basketball game happened inside Tuesday. It ended when a man pulled out a gun and started shooting.
The 34-year-old man turned himself in to police Friday in connection to the shooting.
Four girls ages 15, 15, 16 and 17, and a 20-year-old woman were shot; all five are expected to be OK.
"I was anxious to find out who got shot. Why? Are they OK? Is it someone I know?" Mia Moore, sophomore class president, said.
Shooting scene near Rufus King High School, Milwaukee
"It's just – it was so surreal," said student Alex Gramajo. "Time and time again, we bared witness to reckless behavior fueled by gun violence."
Specifically, students demanded more support from Milwaukee Public Schools – for counselors to help students cope with the violence they have to live with every day.
"We need to see counselors that represent our student body. We are the most diverse school in the state, which I am more than proud to say," said student Brigid Flanders.
"We’re looking to them to hear us, to understand us and get feedback on what they can do better to improve MPS," Mia Moore said. "We’re here to stay and raise our voices about what needs to be talked about."
A number of elected officials, activists and violence prevention leaders in the city were on hand Friday to support the students.
"This isn’t just about Rufus King, this is about every single child in this community," Arnitta Holliman, Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention director, said.
"This is about every single school. This is about every single city block. And I’m not even a parent, biologically, but every single one of these babies are mine. And I’ll be damned if anybody’s going to shoot all of them down."
The walkout had the apparent support of school staff and administrators. Bob Peterson, MPS school board president, is optimistic this push will turn the tides.
"I think all elected officials need those kinds of pushes," Peterson said. "I think if anybody can convince our community we need to act together, it’s these students we heard today."
A town hall meeting for Rufus King High School families is set for Monday, Feb. 7 at 5 p.m.
In statement to FOX6 News, MPS said:
"The district is open to exploring all options to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, student-athletes, spectators and staff. We will continue working with city and community leaders to help maintain a safe building environment both during the school day and during extracurricular activities."