Students who cowered in classrooms, who fled through blood-stained halls, who watched their friends die in the Valentine’s day shooting at their Parkland high school are turning their grief into a national movement for gun control.
Propelled by loss, anger and the shortcomings of politicians from whom they demand change, survivors of the deadly attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school mobilized to launch the “#NeverAgain” movement and the “March for Our Lives.”
Their advocacy has sparked death threats and smear campaigns, but mother Rebecca Boldrick said it won’t slow down her son, David Hogg, and his determined classmates.
“It’s making us more determined,” she said. “They’re not going to scare us. This energizes us. We’re going to get the messages out that school shootings need to stop and that assault rifles need to be banned.”
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Amid their rousing speeches and vocal critique on the nation’s lack of gun safety laws, the students created a website and a GoFundMe page to raise money for the “March For our Lives” event — aimed at protesting gun violence across America.
Hogg and fellow survivors including Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez and Alex Wind started using television appearances and outlets like Facebook and Twitter to solicit donations in their mission to once and for all end a debate that long pre-dates social media.
“Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students,” the March’s mission statement reads.
“We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it a top priority to save these lives.”
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In a matter of days, nearly 23,000 people had donated to the cause, and the students have almost doubled their initial goal of $ 1 million.
Funding for their movement received an additional boost from George Clooney and his wife Amal, who pledged $ 500,000 to the cause. Other celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, followed suit, all of them promising a half-million dollars apiece.
“Donations will be used to pay the expenses associated with the March for our Lives gathering in Washington, D.C., and to provide resources for young people organizing similar marches across the country,” a spokeswoman for the March For Our Lives told the Miami Herald.
“Any leftover funds will go towards supporting and continuing, long-term effort by and for young people to end the epidemic of mass shooting that has turned our classrooms into crime scenes.”
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The students had not initially intended to solicit donations, Kasky’s father, Jeff Kasky said — but after researching the cost of organizing their massive D.C. gathering, they changed course.
With the help of Clooney, the small group of 20 students have connected with attorneys and public relations firm 42 West. And this week they intend to establish the March for Our Lives foundation so that they can deposit all the funds they’ve raised.
“That’s where the money is going,” Jeff Kasky told the Herald. “They’re being directed by people with knowledge of how to responsibly spend this money and it’s going to be very transparent. Every penny is going to be accounted for.”
The student-run group has also enlisted the help of Deena Katz, an executive producer on “Dancing with the Stars” and the co-executive director of the Women’s March Los Angeles, to help them organize the rally in D.C.
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A permit application filed by Katz for National Mall shows the teen organizers are expecting 500,000 people to attend the event scheduled for March 24.
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