Survivors of the recent Parkland school mass shooting want their voices heard and have a message for President Donald Trump and lawmakers, largely about the proliferation and legality of assault-style weapons. Student activists are ratcheting up efforts to curb future killings by partnering with longtime civil rights activist, Rev. Al Sharpton, in an anti-gun violence demonstration in the coming months.
Rev. Sharpton and students who survived the Florida school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School detailed June plans for a rally in front of Trump Tower, the president’s Manhattan residence away from the White House, according to a report from the Patch.
Al Sharpton and Aalayah Eastmond made a joint announcement about the anti-gun rally at Trump Tower during one of the reverend’s weekly addresses. The meeting was but one of many locations across the country where people gathered to discuss rising gun violence in America.
The 16-year-old high school junior shared chilling details of the February 14 mass shooting and how she managed to live through the ordeal, citing a New York Post report.
“When I saw my classmate slumped over, that’s when I realized, ‘OK it’s real,’ and I told myself that I need to look like I’m dead. So the classmate in front of me, Nicholas Dworet, he fell over and when he fell over I just fell over with him and then I went underneath his body and I laid there.”
Aalayah is one of the many faces that have shown up on the airwaves and at events around the country in protest of existing gun laws on the books. They contend that lawmakers are not doing enough to prevent loss of life from mass shooting events like the one where 17 people were gunned down at the Florida school on Valentine’s Day.
The alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, arrived on the school’s grounds and began opening fire on hapless students, some of whom thought the sound of gunfire was firecrackers. In mere minutes, scores of people were left dead and injured from Cruz’s AR-15 assault weapon, which, according to reports, was legally obtained by the teen.
A heated battle is brewing over the Second Amendment. On the one hand, advocates — who strongly support an inherent right to bear arms — declare that mental health issues form the basis by which shooters like Cruz go on murderous rampages. Conversely, anti-gun violence advocates say the current laws are in need of improvement.
Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and students from the Broward County school are scheduling the rally at Trump Tower as part of New York’s Gun Violence Awareness Month. Sharpton, an outspoken Trump critic, recently admonished the president over his handling of a recent police-involved shooting of a black man.
Last month, Stephon Clark died in a hail of gunfire after Sacramento police officers shot him after mistaking an object in his hand as a firearm. The county coroner wrote that Clark, who died in his grandmother’s backyard, was shot at least 20 times, with eight of the shots, striking him from the rear, according to the New York Times.
Clark’s death sparked outrage against the police. Sharpton performed the eulogy for the fallen 22-year-old. Sharpton rebuked Trump for his lack of input about the fatal shooting of the unarmed man, according to the Sacramento Bee.
“He has not said anything about this. Trump should speak out, and there should be policy.”
Sharpton praised Eastmond and her peers around the country in their activist roles in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. He said their involvement and steadfast activism serves as “a necessary marriage of dealing with gun violence as an American issue that jumps over the boundaries of any community and deals with America from every city.”
Eastmond is no stranger to gun violence. She recalled a time in the past when a relative was gunned down on a New York street in Brooklyn. “I actually lost my uncle to gun violence in Brooklyn. So for it to happen to me, in my face, that just shows that change has to happen now,” she told the audience at Sharpton’s event.
Al Sharpton said the anti-gun violence rally begins at Trump International Tower. The proposed route terminates at Donald Trump’s primary home on Fifth Avenue. It’s unclear if the president or members of the first family will be in the tower at the time of the planned rally.