PARKLAND, Fla. - Had it not been for the 2018 Valentines Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Joaquin Oliver would be celebrating his 19th birthday on Sunday. Instead, his father is painting a mural in his honor at the city where 20 people were killed at a mall in Texas and on the day 9 others were killed outside of a bar in Ohio.
As fate would have it, Joaquin's parents, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, were in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Saturday when another deranged young man got a hold of a rifle to kill unarmed civilians. The grieving parents were set to paint at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, where the community was in mourning.
"This is the second time that I am in a situation where there is a mass shooting close to me," Manuel Oliver said about the dreadful coincidence.
During 13 hours, 29 people died in two mass shootings in the United States and Manuel and Patricia Oliver were in shock. They never imagined that tragedy would strike on the weekend they were planning on spending honoring their son's memory. They ended up doing so by being there for another community in pain.
Patricia Oliver talked to reporters in El Paso in both English and Spanish. She said that from her experience, after losing her son in the Parkland shooting, healing takes time because "this pain is not going away."
For a moment, Patricial Oliver was the voice of experience among the relatives of countless of victims of gun violence.
In the last week, there were also mass shootings at a festival in Northern California, a Walmart in Mississippi and early Sunday morning at a popular entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio. All of the carnage happened while the student activists from Parkland were getting ready to go back to school.
March for Our Lives activists tweeted Sunday about the weekend shootings in Chicago that left 33 wounded and three people killed saying many communities are not susprised by the "perpetual acts of gun violence."
Miami-Dade County had its share of recent shootings -- leaving four people dead and four injured. A black transgender woman and a 21-year-old woman died in southern Miami-Dade and a Jewish man and 16-year-old boy were injured in northern Miami-Dade.
During This Week In South Florida on Sunday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Fernandez Rundle said that universal background checks should be implemented because "we don't know enough about the people to whom we are giving weapons to."
My sincere condolences go out to the families of the victims killed in #daytonohio & praying the injured fully recover. Another senseless & horrific mass shootings of innocent persons as we still ponder & pray for the victims & families of the #elpasotexas massacre. 🙏🙏🙏 — Kathy Rundle (@KathyFndzRundle) August 4, 2019
Lourdes and I are praying for the victims in this weekend’s mass shootings in Texas & Ohio — a horrific reminder that we need sensible gun laws and more public investment in mental health. It is why Miami-Dade joined other counties in FL to challenge a state preemption law. 1of2 — Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) August 4, 2019
That state law would punish local governments & hit elected leaders with fines if they pass tougher gun laws that a majority of their citizens want. A Leon Co. judge recently struck down that unconstitutional law but state is appealing this common sense ruling. 2of2 https://t.co/Ric5AUFCXn — Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) August 4, 2019
My last 3 tweets were responding to mass killings. This nation needs to come to a middle ground. Hate is hate. Domestic or Foreign terrorists cause same harm. It starts with common sense laws that protect us all. Laws that also give LE greater abilities to address threats. — Juan Perez (@JPerezMDPD) August 4, 2019
Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez said during TWISF that President Donald Trump needs to "stop inciting" hatred. The man accused of fatally shooting 20 people in El Paso published a screed to an online message board saying the massacre was in response to an "invasion" of Hispanics.
MSD survivors turned activists Alfonso Calderon, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Ryan Deitsch, Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky and other students encouraged their followers on Twitter to get politically involved.
"Remember how you are feeling today come November 2020," Corin wrote. "Do your research on where your State/U.S. Representatives, State/U.S. Senators (if up for re-election) stand on the gun issue. If you don't like it, CHANGE IT."
Hogg urged lawmakers to act and demanded an emergency session.
"The framers did not intend for the Senate to be a graveyard especially in moments like this when our nation is under attack," Hogg wrote.
Wind urged candidates to the Democratic nomination for the presidential election to attend a forum that two gun control organizations announced Thursday, before the last two massacres, to be held in Las Vegas Oct. 2.
"Trump, McConnell, & Pelosi must sit down & actually act against the gun violence epidemic facing America," Deitsch wrote. "Too many people are killed in an instant for any more blood to spill. It’s your turn to serve us."
Kasky started tweeting on Friday. He urged voters to "vote for a president who will do something about this. The war at home needs to end." On Saturday morning, he thought about the reaction to the Christchurch mosque shootings in March.
"New Zealand fixed it in hours," Kasky wrote. "We would be an international joke, but jokes are supposed to be funny. And people are getting slaughtered."
What we’ve seen in the last 24 hours in El Paso and Dayton is devastating. Hate and intolerance are corrupting too many of our young people.
White nationalism is a cancer on our country. We all stand united against this evil. — Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) August 4, 2019
Sofie Whitney wrote she was heartbroken.
"Again and again, communities all over the country have to grieve unthinkable losses," Whitney wrote. "I'm sorry."
Delaney Tarr, an MSD activist, tweeted on Sunday: "I want to scream and I want to cry but nothing comes out. I want to tweet the perfect words but none will come. I want to change the world but I'm just not fast enough. God, [expletive]. We live in a hellscape."
Calderon shared information on Twitter about the March For Our Lives' #MarchOnNRA event Sunday.
Emma Gonzalez, an MSD activist, shared a link to a GoFundMe account to benefit Change The Ref, the organization Joaquin's parents founded to "raise awareness through strategic interventions that will reduce the influence of the NRA." She did so in honor of Joaquin's 19th birthday.
Joaquin's parents have been lobbying for more strict gun laws in the United States. He said before the shooting his son cared deeply about anti-gun laws and about the crisis in Venezuela. As Venezuelan-American migrants, they were in Juarez to meet with Venezuelan refugees who are struggling in the U.S. border with Mexico.
Since his son died, Oliver learned how to use spray paint and stencils. He has created dozens of murals, including one in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood that was recently vandalized and restored. He spent his Sunday afternoon working with black paint outside of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas.
Manuel and Patricia Oliver fled violence in their home city of Caracas, Venezuela to find a safer home for their children. On February 14th, 2018, their son Joaquin was murdered in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Follow the link in our profile to hear more of their story and about the work they’re doing to make sure other families don’t have to experience what they went through. @changetheref ⠀
Joaquin “Guac” Oliver. Happy 19th birthday you ball of sunshine. I’ve been SO inspired by you, and Thanks to you, I’ve started to “love those around you” And I’ve got something/someone to fight for. Everyday you continue to inspire thousands around the world. We love you Guac. happy birthday. Fly high❤️ PC:@patricia_padauy (twitter) , @urbanolife (Twitter) , @ghersiandrea , @msdmemory .| #joaquinoliver #llg #vivaguac #longliveguac #vivajoaquin #longlivejoaquin #changetheref #guacisback #msd #msdstrong #venezuela
When I first started running a tribute account, Joaquin’s was the first birthday I posted. I feel honoured that I can keep fighting for Guac and honouring his legacy. Rest in Power Guac, and Happy Birthday. 🥑 #joaquinoliver #msdstrong #rememberhim #rememberthem #17angels #rememberthe17 #prayersfordouglas #prayersforparkland #parkland #parklandstrong #douglasstrong #parklandshooting #victims #17 #activism #hope #love #happybirthday #birthday #guac #guacisback
Forever thinking about you, happy Birthday Joaquin, being a Venezuelan immigrant your story hit me, your beautiful smile, and your contagious laugh. I wish I could’ve meet you. Your life was taken away too soon, such a amazing and gorgeous soul like you deserved to go to collage, to get married, and to have kids. Today on your 19th Birthday your celebrating it in heaven. Just know Guac your family is fighting for you, they miss you and so do I. Have a very happy birthday angel. Heaven needed an angel and they took til. Love you #joaquinoliver
this edit is for the 17 beautiful lives lost on that tragic day. 'you know it's time for change when children start acting like leaders and leaders start acting like children' 🦅 __ #msdstrong #neverforget #weneedchange #douglasstrong #17eagles #meadowpollack #jaimeguttenberg #alyssaalhadeff #carmenschentrup #alexschachter #scottbeigel #aaronfeis #chrishixon #joaquinoliver #caraloughran #martinduque #lukehoyer #peterwang #nicholasdworet #helenaramsay #ginamontalto #alainapetty
happy 4th of july! I have always dreamed of feeling the joy of this day, despite living on another continent. I actually think that this is one of the best days of the year in America and I am very upset that our angels will not celebrate with their friends and relatives. It is very sad.🇺🇸 #meadowpollack #alyssaalhadeff #caraloughran #alexschachter #martinduque #peterwang #jaimeguttenberg #ginamontalto #lukehoyer #carmenschentrup #aaronfeis #chrishixon #ScottBeigel #alainapetty #joaquinoliver #nicholasdworet #helenaramsay
Thank you so much to the Oliver Family, Hands On Broward, Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, Bethune students and staff and everyone else that heard the call to honor. Phase One if the Joaquin Oliver Project was completed only a few short days before #oneyearlater . This project started with a surprise phone call after drawing a long series of design proposals. A few weeks later I gave a tour of Bethune to two brightly faced and deeply invested women in @ghersiandrea and @samantha_novick who I was told felt so comfortable on the campus and knew this was the right place to be. Then I had the honor of meeting Manuel Oliver who shared his ideas and feelings with me so that we can make the greatest personal impact and meaning. After that, it all came to fruition. I would also like to note that there was an incredible vigil held on that sacred day and @changetheref made an extremely impactful mural in New York City for all to see and hear and remember. Together we honored Joaquin Oliver. A bright young flame who has led many through the darkness and will continue being a light to guide all those who need not be left alone, nor ignored, nor silenced. His flare flickers eternal. His leadership never ending. His presence ever felt. And his inspiration to act, never ceasing. I am so thankful to all those that helped and took to action in honoring Joaquin so that we can remember and remind others that this can not happen again. Outdoor classroom, including murals, designed by William Elkin and Manuel Oliver @urbanolife . In honor of @slump_guac
I have been inspired since day one after Parkland by @changetheref, which was started by the parents of #joaquinoliver. His father @Manueloliver00 is an artist and has used his platform to bring awareness to not only his sons senseless death, but to the #gunviolence epidemic. Thank you @changetheref! #endgunviolence #msdstrong #parkland @momsdemand #RepostPlus @changetheref - - - - - - Today in Parkland #ForeverGUAC 🥑❤️
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