New York City’s “Fearless Girl” statue wore a bulletproof vest over the weekend, transforming into “Fearful Girl,” the Huffington Post reported.
The bronze statue, located in Manhattan’s financial district, became a powerful protest against gun violence as she sported the vest, which read “#FEARFULGIRL.” The demonstration was sponsored by Change the Ref, a gun control advocacy group founded by Manuel and Patricia Oliver, whose son Joaquin “Guac” Oliver tragically died in February in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The Olivers stood next to the statue after putting the vest on it early Friday morning, surrounded by tourists and people making their commute to work. According to Newsweek, the vest remained on the statue for about an hour before police arrived at the scene, whom Oliver said were very supportive along with the rest of the crowd.
“They saw the girl with the bulletproof vest and they also saw us,” Manuel told the Huffington Post.“So, some of them will be realizing that there is a chance that it could happen to them. I really hope that society understands that they don’t need to go through what we’re going through.”
“The reality is that if we want to keep [our children] safe, ironically, we should ask them to wear bulletproof vests,” he added.
— Change the Ref (@ChangeTheRef) November 2, 2018
Days before the Olivers made their presence known in New York, a large billboard with Joaquin’s face was unveiled in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood near Fenway Park, CBS News reported.
“If I had attended high school in Massachusetts instead of Parkland Florida, I would likely be alive today,” the billboard read, followed by the words “GUN LAWS SAVE LIVES” in bold yellow letters.
In their son Joaquin’s name, @manueloliver00 & Patricia Oliver are channeling their grief to change our nation’s gun laws and protect our schools and communities. Humbled to stand with them today as we unveiled @stophandguns & @ChangeTheRef’s new billboard. pic.twitter.com/Epg14u9lnG
— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) November 1, 2018
According to CBS News, the billboard was in eyesight as Boston Red Sox players rode by during Wednesday’s parade following the baseball team’s 2018 World series win.
“He’s right back sending a big statement to the nation,” Manuel said of the prominent display during a news conference in Boston on November 1. “We change this if we follow Joaquin’s directions on that billboard.”
According to its website, the Oliver’s Change the Ref organization uses urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the “disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic.”
Earlier last week, a life-size 3-D sculpture of Joaquin was unveiled in Times Square to protest the threat of 3-D printed guns, Now This News reported.
Parkland father Manuel Oliver is connecting with voters about the necessity of gun safety reforms through his art. pic.twitter.com/5Ri8SIpEhp
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 31, 2018
These powerful art pieces, including the “Fearless Girl” statue’s outfit addition, come just days before the midterm elections, and the Olivers hope their protest art “leaves a lasting impression” as people head to the polls.
— Change the Ref (@ChangeTheRef) November 3, 2018
“This is an American reality. It happens every single day,” Manuel told the Huffington Post. “While I’m talking to you, someone is dying from gun violence. A hundred people will die today, another hundred will die tomorrow, and after one year, 30,000 or more will die from gun violence. Our son happens to be one of these victims. You don’t need your son or yourself to be one of these victims.”