Parkland, Florida Group Visits DC

Tahirih Njang, Staff Writer

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On the night of February 12th, two days prior to the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, an art exhibit opened in Washington, D.C. to honor the lives of the many people affected by gun violence every year.

The exhibit featured art by Change the Ref, as well as student submissions from MoCo Students for Change. Change the Ref is an organization formed last year by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, parents of Joaquin Oliver, a 17-year-old student who was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. Joaquin’s parents started the organization not only to honor his memory, but also to invoke change, especially on the issue of gun violence.

MoCo Students for Change is a student-led organization that was formed by students of Montgomery County, Maryland in response to the Parkland shooting. It focuses on platforms of gun violence, climate change, and other areas of social change.
The opening featured remarks from the Olivers, MoCo students for Change, and politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and fellow Democratic Representatives Joe Kennedy, Ted Deutch, and Jamie Raskin. Also speaking was Joaquin’s girlfriend, Victoria Gonzalez, who read a poem she wrote about Joaquin.
The well-attended event brought both tears and calls for justice from the crowd. After Gonzalez’s poem, people could be seen shedding tears and giving heartfelt condolences to her and the Oliver.

Throughout the event, the crowd held a very inspired energy when Pelosi, Kennedy, Deutch, and Raskin came to speak on common sense gun reform.

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