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They lost a son in Parkland and now they are touring the US to unite people against weapons
Parkland (USA), Jul 3 (EFE).- Patricia and Manuel Oliver, who lost their son Joaquín in the shooting from Parkland (2018), embarked on a tour of US cities marked by gun violence on Monday aboard a school bus to carry a message: we are all victims and the fight belongs to everyone.
The first stop is this Monday in Orlando, the city of theme parks that everyone associates with fun, but which was the scene in 2016 of the worst mass shooting directed against the LGTBQ+ community, as announced before setting off on the trip.
The Venezuelan-American couple, known for their striking initiatives to highlight the magnitude of armed violence in the US, will arrive today with their bus to the place in Orlando where in 2016 49 people died and fifty were injured while having fun at the Pulse gay nightclub.
Guac’s Magical Tour, as it’s been called, is a 50-day tour of the country with stops at locations marked on the mass shooting map: Columbine, Uvalde, Atlanta, and 20 other cities.
“Guac”, as everyone called the son of Patricia and Manuel, was one of the 17 people who died on February 14, 2018 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Middle School in Parkland (southeast Florida) due to the shots by a former student, Nikolas Cruz, with a semi-automatic rifle.
The couple undertook this tour to celebrate what would have been “Guac’s” 23rd birthday and, according to what Patricia told EFE, give back in some way the messages and affection of people who have felt inspired by him through the work he they carry out from the Change the Ref foundation (change the reference).
This foundation was created by the Oliver couple in order that the lives of the 17 fatalities of the Parkland massacre “are never forgotten” and that there be a “real change” in society to ensure that shootings do not occur in the future. massive.
“Until that day comes, a lot of people are going to die -says Manuel- because of the politicians and their lack of action, they are cowards but they also receive money from the arms industry, period. Then they create those laws trying to convince us, as if we were idiots, that there will be less violence, that the problem will be resolved”.
A REVOLUTION ON WHEELS
The bus, which Manuel Oliver defines as “a revolution on wheels”, has the phrase “Save Lives” written on the upper part and an American flag, because, although it is always associated with supporters weapons, “it’s more than that,” he told those present before getting behind the wheel.
“I’m tired of seeing the flag as a logo, as a symbol of the arms industry,” Oliver said.
Among other things, the couple has gone to the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to deliver Christmas cookies with holes that represent bullets, and Manuel also got on a crane in Washington to ask President Joe Biden to fulfill his electoral promises and do more to curb gun violence.
In a conversation before the farewell ceremony, Patricia Oliver told EFE that she had to prepare herself “mentally” to “not be sad” on a tour that will obviously give her reasons to have painful thoughts and memories.
“We want it to have a positive meaning,” she stressed.
The couple will travel more than 10,000 miles (16,000 km) with their bus “conditioned for activism” and in addition to the established stops, others will appear along the way to hear the message that the fight against armed violence must be done “together”, because it is a problem that “affects us all”.
In each city the activities will be different, says the mother of “Guac”, who emphasizes that, instead of stopping, armed violence is increasing in the country and that shows a failure as a society, a “frank decline”.
According to a report updated to date by the Gun Violence Archive organization, 21,633 people, including minors, have died so far this year from firearms.
Of those deaths, 9,489 were intentional or unintentional murders and more than 12,000 were due to suicide, the latter figure calculated from data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
(c) EFE Agency