Father of Parkland victim climbs crane to call for action on gun violence
The father of one of the students killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting delivered a message for President Biden on Monday, four years after the deadly tragedy. Climbing a 150-foot construction tower next to the White House, Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was killed, dropped a banner calling for Mr. Biden to pass gun legislation.
He posted video and photos on social media of himself atop the crane and the banner, which read “45K people died from gun violence on your watch.”
Oliver said he is standing on the crane so the “whole world will listen to Joaquin” and had asked Mr. Biden for a meeting, but had not gotten one. Oliver was temporarily taken into custody by police.
“Every day reminds of us, the pain, and that’s why we decided to be where we are today,” said his wife, Patricia Oliver.
It’s been four years since the shooting that left Joaquin and 13 other students and three staff members dead.
CBS Miami reported that Oliver, along with other Parkland parents, survivors and advocates, also launched a gun violence tracker on Monday. The Shock Market Index is part of their efforts to advocate for federal action to stem gun violence.
Activist David Hogg, a student survivor of the shooting, said the group would take a billboard truck through the streets of the capital to put pressure on the president.
“He has promised a number of things that he could do as president right now, but has yet to do so, through executive action,” Hogg said in a video posted to Twitter. “We are demanding that he takes actions to save lives before the next Parkland happens.”
Mr. Biden marked the anniversary with his own call for action, asking Congress to pass legislation to address gun violence, including requiring universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and getting rid of immunity for firearms manufacturers.
“We can never bring back those we’ve lost. But we can come together to fulfill the first responsibility of our government and our democracy: to keep each other safe,” Mr. Biden said in a statement on the tragic shooting. “For Parkland, for all those we’ve lost, and for all those left behind, it is time to uphold that solemn obligation.”
In Florida, flags were flown at half-staff at government buildings, parks and other facilities to honor the memory of those killed.
“We will continue to honor the memory of the innocent Floridians lost on that tragic day both in word and in deed, and we continue to convey our deepest sympathies to the families, loved ones, and Parkland community for their loss,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a proclamation naming February 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Remembrance Day. The state also observed a moment of silence at 3 p.m. in honor of the victims.
Nikolas Cruz, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder, faces life in prison or the death penalty. His sentencing is set to begin in April.