Florida shooting survivors plan ‘March for Our Lives’

World Today

Mourners look at candles, flowers and stuffed animals serving as a memorial for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in a park in Parkland, Florida on February 16, 2018. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at the Florida high school leaving 17 people dead and 15 injured. (AFP PHOTO / RHONA WISE)

The U.S. school where a shooting killed 17 is set to reopen this week.
Staff members will start returning to the Parkland, Florida, high school on Thursday, and classes could resume the following week.

Authorities have also reopened the road leading up to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Funerals are underway as members of the community remember those lost with flowers, balloons, and pictures.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez explains how some students are turning their frustration over U.S. gun laws into activism.

Seventeen crosses stand tall with pictures of the victims. Stoneman Douglas Principal Ty Thompson released an emotional video message to his student body on YouTube. “I promise you I will hug each and every one of you, as many times as you need,” he said. “And I will hold you as long as you need me to for all 3,300 of you and your families. And we will get through this together.” These were Thompson’s first public remarks since the shooting.

But for some grieving survivors, anguish is turning to anger. Many believe U.S. politicians are not acting to tighten gun regulations because of campaign contributions they receive from America’s gun lobby and organizations like the National Rifle Association.

Surviving student leaders have organized the social media movement using the hashtag #NeverAgain and have organized a ‘March For Our Lives,’ on Washington, D.C. next month to pressure politicians to take action on gun violence. They’re calling on students who can’t make it to the nation’s capital stage solidarity marches in their own communities.

“My message for the people in office is you’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around. And we have received endless support from your generation and we thank everybody for that immensely. We really appreciate it,” Cameron Kasky, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said.

Several other demonstrations are planned across the country in the weeks ahead. Organizers are calling for a 17-minute walkout by teachers and students on March 14. The Network for Public Education announced a day of walkouts, sit-ins and other events on school campuses on April 20. The date is the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 12 students and one teacher dead.

“This is about us begging for our lives. This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats. This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral,” Kasky said.

According to the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a “listening session” with high school students and teachers on Wednesday. Thursday, he’ll meet with state and local officials on school safety. No details have been released about the students that will be attending the session. Meanwhile, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has urged legislators in his state to consider enacting a law that would allow citizens to ask a court to remove guns from a person who poses a danger.