Florida students to lawmakers and Trump: 'Shame on you'

By Updated at 2018-02-18 08:49:13 +0000


Victims of the recent Florida school shooting have called out politicians for their lack of action after yet another deadly massacre. "Shame on you!" the students said to Trump, NRA and U.S. lawmakers.

Thousands of students, parents and gun control advocates rallied in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Saturday to demand changes in legislation after 17 people were shot and killed at a high school in the nearby town of Parkland.

"They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun," said student Emma Gonzalez on the steps of Fort Lauderdale's federal courthouse. "We call BS."

The students also excoriated President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for creating an environment in the United States where even the smallest gun control proposals come up against fierce resistance.

"Shame on you!" the crowd chanted.

Gonzalez also gave voice to a question many in the US have been asking since Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: How did 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student who was known to be mentally ill and exhibit erratic behavior, come to legally purchase an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle?

Students: Not only a mental health issue

During her speech, Emma Gonzalez slammed the reasoning used by many conservative politicians that school shootings are usually the product of mental health issues and would not be prevented by tightened gun control laws.

"He wouldn't have harmed that many students with a knife," she pointed out.

"Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again," said Delaney Tarr, another student at Stoneman Douglas.

"A lot of people are saying that these kids are activists, these kids need to be politicians," Gonzalez told a reporter after the demonstration. "But a lot of us are just other students who figured there's strength in numbers."

Following the rally in Fort Lauderdale, a vigil was held in St. Petersburg, Florida, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) northwest of Parkland. Hundreds of people lit candles in honor of the victims and made similar calls for politicians to take action over the violence.

Calls for gun control grow louder

Pressure is growing for tougher gun-control laws after a mass shooting at a Florida high school, with thousands of angry protesters at state rallies demanding immediate action from lawmakers, and more demonstrations planned across the country in the weeks ahead.

Organizers behind the Women’s March, an anti-Trump and female empowerment protest, called for a 17-minute, nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14. The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization for public schools, announced a day of walkouts, sit-ins and other events on school campuses on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

Plans for the protests circulated widely on social media on Saturday, as students, parents, teachers and neighbors gathered to express their grief over the fatal shooting of 14 students and three staff members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Hundreds showed up at rallies in Fort Lauderdale, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away, and in St. Petersburg, 250 miles (400 kilometers) northwest, to demand action on gun-control legislation.

“The fact that we can’t go to school and feel safe every day, when we’re supposed to feel safe, is a problem,” said Fabiana Corsa, a Florida high school student who attended the Fort Lauderdale gathering.

Corsa said legislators were “sacrificing students” in order to get money from the National Rifle Association.

The crowd at the rally chanted: “Vote them out!” and held signs calling for action. Some read: “#Never Again,” "#Do something now” and “Don’t Let My Friends Die.”

(DW, dpa, AP, AFP)