Following the tragedy that struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida, the high school students who were affected have been speaking up and demanding action.
This week, their voices were heard.
The students gathered at the BB&T center in Sunrise to speak with elected officials and representatives to discuss the aftermath of the school shooting that killed 17 of their classmates and teachers. The town hall meeting, hosted by CNN, also had hundreds of community members and supporters in attendance.
“I’ve just been really inspired by what the students are doing,” attendee Rebeca Gonche said. “I’m really glad that they’re taking the platform that they were given… They’re actually trying to do something, I think it’s great that they’re doing all this and they’re able to pull this off.”
“They’re actually trying to do something, I think it’s great that they’re doing all this and they’re able to pull this off.”
The students were given the opportunity to ask Florida senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Dana Loesch, a representative of the National Rifle Association, questions that they had prepared regarding gun control and the political action that is to be taken in response to the tragedy. Senior Florida Senator Bill Nelson and Broward Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Scott Israel attended as well.
Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and outspoken advocate for gun control, asked Rubio if he intends to continue to accept donations from the NRA.
“People buy into my agenda… I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda,” Rubio said.
Emma González, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, spoke with Dana Loesch, the NRA spokeswoman, asking about whether she believes that semi-automatic weapons ought to be as accessible as they are.
The many who attended were also able to witness the discussion firsthand and showed their support for the high school students.
“I was at Stoneman Douglas during the time, and I lost two people,” MSD sophomore Amanda Marty said. “And I feel that it’s necessary to come here and try to help.”
Michelle Thompson, an attendee whose daughter is a freshman at Stoneman Douglas and was in the building during the attack, shared her reasoning for attending the town hall meeting.
“As a mother, I have to support these kids.”
“I had to bring [my daughter] to let her see the movement that Stoneman Douglas students have started and hope that they will continue it,” Thompson said. “As a mother, I have to support these kids.”
The “Never Again” movement, which was started by MSD students shortly after the shooting and was rapidly supported by students across Broward County, has prompted rallies and protests across the state of Florida.
The meeting gave these students the opportunity to continue their call to action in the presence of those leaders of the nation with the power to make the changes that they are demanding.
“I got to really see each person who was up there with the representatives… so we could actually see their faces, and so that they know we’re actual people standing here and that people are affected by it,” Marty said. “And hearing them speak slightly reassured me that something is going to get done.”
Photo by Casey Chapter