NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Sadly, the tragedy that happened The Covenant School is yet another in a long line of mass shootings at schools. The 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida claimed 17 lives and injured 17 others.
One of the students killed in Parkland was Joaquin Oliver. His family has channeled their grief into a campaign to change gun laws in the U.S. News 2 spoke with Joaquin’s dad, Manuel Oliver, and he has one simple but bold move he wants every school in this country to do right now.
“I think we need to react in a more disruptive and demanding way than ever before,” said Manuel.
Manuel is calling on every student, staff and administrator at every school in the U.S. to strike.
“Teachers and students, you are potential victims inside and outside your schools, your college, your high schools, your elementary schools. However, you have the power to send a message, you are a strong force that together could make a decision to force our representatives to make things happen.”
Manuel says that this is not a walkout, because that is temporary; this is a walkaway – that may last days, maybe weeks – from every school, public and private.
“We start small, and we go bigger. I don’t see any other option here.”
After Manuel’s son, Joaquin, was killed in the Parkland shooting, he launched Change the Ref. Ever since, their mission has been to take on the NRA, the pro-gun lobby and its politicians through activism.
In Washington, Manuel unfurled a massive banner for President Joe Biden to see that read: 45k people died from gun violence on your watch. In Nashville, just a few weeks ago, he met with a man whose brother was killed in the 2018 Antioch Waffle House shooting. In Texas, they labeled 52 school buses with shooting sights, representing the more than 4,000 children lost to gun violence. And now this week, after The Covenant School shooting, Manuel wants to see a school strike.
“The reality is that if we don’t do this, if we don’t take a big action, with an easy-to-understand call to action, things will keep on happening.”
Manuel says that he is proud of the next generation. He says that they are motivated to make a difference. He mentions Maxwell Frost, the first member of Gen Z elected to Congress who is working to change gun laws.