Audiences were spellbound by a video of a young girl pirouetting beautifully across a stage Friday night at the Coral Springs Museum of Art. The 14-year-old leaping across a screen was Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 victims murdered by a school shooter on February 14th, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Her dad, Fred Guttenberg, closed out a poignant speech in an emotional rally against gun violence with the footage of his daughter dancing. "I don't know if my daughter died instantly," he said. "I don't know if my daughter suffered." The grieving father spoke to why he got involved in activism after the tragedy. "When I think about Jaime running down the hallway, fighting for her life, with an active shooter at her back, I have no choice."
Founder of Orange Ribbons for Jaime, Guttenberg advocated for "Orange Wave in November," the organization's campaign challenging dads to vote for gun safety in the coming election. His speech emphasized his goal to break the gun lobby. "I do blame them for holding legislators and legislation hostage." He said, "And I do think if they were irrelevant, more would have been done, and my daughter and other victims of gun violence would be here today."
Met with a standing ovation, his talk was followed by words from fellow activist Manuel Oliver. Oliver’s son Joaquin was killed alongside Jaime in the tragic school shooting. "I lost my son and my best friend," Oliver said as video clips of his teenage boy singing and dancing played onscreen, highlighting the spirit of the slain 17-year-old child. "I miss my kid."
Oliver, the man behind youth empowerment organization Change the Ref, also focused on how he and his wife Patricia use art to spread their messages, from predicting the end of the NRA, to fighting the initiative to arm teachers in schools, and advocating against 3-D gun manufacturers."I'm an artist. I was an artist before this. So we decided to fight this with art."
Everytown for Gun Safety, Orange Ribbons for Jaime, Change the Ref and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America were joined by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of Everytown and possible 2020 presidential candidate. “I don’t know how anyone follows both of you,” Bloomberg told Guttenberg and Oliver, who were seated up front. He then urged community members to get involved by ensuring Florida laws on gun control get enforced.
Bloomberg also shared his personal link to the Parkland shooting: February 14th is the former mayor's birthday. “So every year I’ll think about it. I’ll think about you. I’ll try to remember the names, or not," he said. “But I’ll remember what happened, and I’ll remember that we said we were going to do something about it.”
(Read the full article via the New Times Broward-Palm Beach here: https://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/former-new-york-mayor-michael-bloomberg-joined-parkland-activists-for-gun-control-rally-in-coral-springs-9940582)