Gov. Henry McMaster was quite frank Wednesday when asked for his assessment of students walking out of school classrooms across the country under the auspices of protesting gun violence and remembering those killed in mass school shootings.
The walkouts, in which students nationwide participated, were partly a memorial to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14. The walkouts also were used as a demonstration to raise awareness of issues impacting school safety, and as a protest platform to advocate for gun law reform.
McMaster feels the entire walkout movement, however, was the work of leftist groups using "innocent" students to make a political statement.
McMaster called the walkouts "shameful" and a "tricky move by a left-wing group" when questioned about a variety of topics by members of the media at the Statehouse Wednesday.
See McMaster's full statement below, or watch it in the video at the top of the page.
"I understand that there’s a left-wing group coordinating this around the country. I think that it appears that these school children — innocent school children are being used as a tool by this left-wing group to further their own agenda. It is not about the tragedy. It’s not about the school children, or what we should all do and what these students should do, and what I imagine a lot of them intend to do, which is to pray and to hope for the families of those who were slain. But this — This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group, from the information I’ve seen, to use these children as a tool to further their own means. It sounds like a protest to me. It’s not a memorial. It’s certainly not a prayer service. It’s a political statement by a left-wing group, and it’s shameful."
David Hogg, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student who has been outspoken about the need for gun reform in the month since the Parkland shooting, responded to a CNN report about McMaster's comments.
The teen on his Twitter said "Future voters will not reelect you and outlive you too. Can't wait to see what the history textbooks our generation writes will have to say about people like you."\