Thursday 13 December 2018

School-massacre pupils plan anti-gun rally

Calls for national classroom walkout as Trump blames FBI

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez becomes emotional during her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez becomes emotional during her speech at a rally for gun control at the Broward County Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Julie Allen in Washington

Survivors of last week's school shooting in Florida will march on Washington DC next month, piling pressure on US politicians to act on gun control, as a remarkable protest movement of schoolchildren gathered momentum yesterday.

News of the plan to march came after President Donald Trump used Twitter to blame the FBI for the tragedy, saying it missed the "many" warning signs because agents were spending too much time on the investigation into Russian election interference.

The March For Our Lives campaign has already gained huge support from across the country in the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.

Nikolas Cruz, a disturbed 19-year-old, shot and killed 17 students and staff in Parkland, near Miami, despite several warning signs.

In the days since the second biggest school shooting in America's recent history, five teenagers who survived the attack have stepped forward and publicly condemned politicians who take money from the National Rifle Association, the all-powerful gun lobby.

Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin are calling on children across the country to join them in protests that will begin with a nationwide school walkout on March 14 to mark a month since the massacre.

Nikolas Cruz: Florida school shooting suspect. (Broward County Jail via AP)
Nikolas Cruz: Florida school shooting suspect. (Broward County Jail via AP)

Ten days later, they will lead a march in the nation's capital to demand children's "lives and safety become a priority", potentially echoing scenes from the 2017 Women's March, when millions around the world protested on the first full day of Mr Trump's presidency.

"We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school," the group wrote in a statement. "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. 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 our top priority to save these lives. Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear."

Addressing a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, Ms Gonzalez (18) declared: "We will be the last mass shooting."

The rallying calls appeared to do little to persuade Mr Trump to consider tighter gun laws. In a late night Twitter posting on Saturday, he instead chastised the FBI, which days ago admitted it had failed to act on a tip-off about Cruz.

Mr Trump wrote: "Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!"

Ruben Gallegio, an Arizona congressman, called the US leader a "psychopath".

"You are such a psychopath that you have to make even the death of 17 children about you. America will regret the day you were ever born," he wrote.

The FBI admitted it received a tip-off about Cruz's "gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting".

Yesterday more details emerged about Cruz's family life. Lynda Cruz, his adoptive mother who died last year, bore the brunt of outbursts so angry and violent that she called the police on multiple occasions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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