A day for students to say, 'Never again' at Capitol
Ryan Deitsch, calls out FL lawmakers and media in aftermath of Stoneman shooting James Call
FL Senator tells Stoneman students lawmakers are working as fast as they can to address gun violence James Call
Sen Rob Bradley tells students lawmakers are working as fas as they can on gun laws James Call
The Florida House of Representatives declared pornography a public health risk, just minutes after rejecting a motion to consider a bill that would ban assault rifles. Veuer's Sam Berman has the full story. Buzz60
During a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, Stoneman Douglas High School junior Lorenzo Prado shares his harrowing story of being mistaken for the shooter who killed 17 people at his school on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Lincoln High School senior Russelle Dirggers talks about participating in NeverAgain Rally on Feb. 21. Nada Hassanein/Democrat
Lawmakers and students speak at gun control rally at the Capitol
Raw video of Stoneman Douglas students
Stoneman Douglas students Mikayla Stravitz, 17, and her little sister Emma Stravitz, 14, share their stories from the Feb.14 shooting at their school during their day of advocacy with fellow students at the state Capitol.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas students speak at the Capitol
Stoneman students news conference
NeverAgain Rally: Survivors speaks at the rally
NeverAgain Rally: Gun control rally at the Capitol
Protesters have gathered at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee for the NeverAgain Rally on Feb. 21. Karl Etters/Democrat
More of the #NeverAgain from the Old Capitol
Crowd on the steps of the Old Capitol
Raw video from March Against Gun Violence
The March Against Gun Violence stretches from downtown to campus on College Avenue in Tallahassee
FSU marchers are bound for the capitol as they chant #NeverAgain for #ParklandStudents
Hundreds of people rallying outside of the Old Capitol.
Where's Rick Scott chant begins Alexia Pyun
Hundreds of students gathering at FSU’s Westcott Fountain ahead of March Against Gun Violence to the Capitol.
Students, a lot of them from Leon County have come out in droves today
Watch Stoneman Douglas student @juliabishopp and Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Fort Lauderdale, talk gun control as part of The students #neveragain visit to the Florida Capitol.
65 teachers from Broward County are here because those from Parkland couldn't be. "They're at funerals. Enough is enough"
NeverAgain Rally: March to the Capitol begins
Stoneman students meeting with Rep. Williams.
Students arriving from the Civic Center
MSD students gathering fully signed out "what do we want. Change. When do we want it? Now
Rep. Shaw of Tampa. "This is about you. This is not about us."
NeverAgain Rally: Stoneman Douglas survivors march on state Capitol
Local students greet Douglas survivors as Leon High School opens its doors
Students from Broward county speak with Republican legislators
Teenage survivors from the Stoneman Douglas shooting are in Tallahassee to tell lawmakers they want a ban on assault weapons. James Call
The names of the 17 people who lost their lives in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, are read during a candlelight vigil held for the victims at the Centre of Tallahassee Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.
- Watch it: Shooting survivor calls out lawmakers
- Watch It: Senate and Stoneman Students
- Watch it: Senator talks to Stoneman students
- Fla. House declares porn public health risk, denies assault rifle ban
- Watch it: Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Lorenzo Prado
- NeverAgain Rally: Leon County student talks getting involved
- NeverAgain Rally: Lawmakers and students speak at gun control rally at the Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Raw video of Stoneman Douglas students
- NeverAgain Rally: Sisters share their stories form the shooting
- NeverAgain Rally: Marjory Stoneman Douglas students speak at Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Stoneman students news conference
- NeverAgain Rally: Survivors speaks at the rally
- NeverAgain Rally: Gun control rally at the Capitol (Part 1)
- NeverAgain Rally: At least 1,200 people gather at the Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Raw video from the Old Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Crowd on the steps of the Old Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Raw video form the march
- NeverAgain Rally: March stretches from downtown to campus on College Avenue
- NeverAgain Rally: FSU marchers are bound for the capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Hundreds of people rallying outside of the Old Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: Where's Rick Scott chant begins
- NeverAgain Rally: Students gathering at Westcott Fountain ahead of march
- NeverAgain Rally: Students at the Capitol
- NeverAgain Rally: MSD students and Rep. Patricia Williams talk gun control
- NeverAgain Rally: 'They're at funerals. Enough is enough'
- NeverAgain Rally: March to the Capitol begins
- NeverAgain Rally: Students meeting with Rep. Williams.
- NeverAgain Rally: Students arriving from the Civic Center
- NeverAgain Rally: Students gathering fully signed out
- NeverAgain Rally: Survivors meet Rep. Shaw of Tampa
- NeverAgain Rally: Stoneman Douglas survivors march on state Capitol
- Local students greet Douglas survivors
- My friend is dead because they don't want to do their job
- Watch It: Douglas student wants assault weapon ban
- Watch it: Vigil for the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High shooting
Correction and clarification: A vignette written by long-time child advocate and 4Generations Institute founder Jack Levine about 99-year-old gun control rally attendee Sidney Walton published contained multiple inaccuracies and a fabricated quote. Levine said: “My enthusiasm about meeting both father and son led me to attribute a quote from Sidney about details of his war experience which was inaccurate. I regret fictionalizing ... and not checking on the accuracy before my sending the message forward for publication.” It has since been removed.
And the children shall lead them.
From the early morning breakfast at the Tucker Civic Center to the march of thousands through downtown to the steps of the Old Capitol for a two-hour rally, it was their day.
The high school students who came up from south Florida and the local students who took advantage of the school district's excused absence to exercise their First Amendment right to protest.
The college students who carried signs and volunteered to keep marchers in line and out of the street
And the elementary school kids who accompanied their parents.
All saying in unison, never again.
"Just the beginning"
Chiles High School seniors Madeleine Bodiford, Lydia Hayward and Nathaniel Green took advantage of the districtwide excused absence decreed by Superintendent Rocky Hanna to come out and show their solidarity with the survivors of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County.
“I’m here because 17 people were just murdered in our backyard and the NRA hasn’t said anything about it. The President has done nothing,” Bodiford, 17, said.
“People need to realize it is time for change, realize it is not the adults, but the students who will lead.”
Hayward, holding a sign that said “Fear has no Place in School,” said, “The fact that anyone is able to feel unsafe is not OK. We go to school to learn. We are here to show the Legislature we care and we are not going to stop.”
What’s disconcerting, these students say, is that lockdowns and active shooter drills are becoming more routine, Green said.
“I feel like a full lockdown should only be a last resort, not something we should have to practice for regularly. It should only be once a year.”
More coverage from the NeverAgain rally:
Chiles High was canceled for a day last year when someone threatened to bring a gun to school, Bodiford said.
“We’re lucky it hasn’t happened yet,” she said.
But when she heard about the 17 lives taken in Parkland, she had to do something to get involved and let her legislators know how she felt. Change should be immediate and effective, she said.
“Gun control for me is a big issue and will affect who I vote for,” she said.
Green said it’s a big issue for him as well.
“The ultimate goal is to prevent something like this from happening again,” he said, predicting that the protest and rally would “have a ripple effect across the state. I think that this is just the beginning.”
"Someone could sneak in and start shooting"
Destiny Cole, Nikia Gordon and Atiyah Bunton, are all freshmen at Lincoln High. They didn’t let the fact they are too young to vote stop them from exercising their First Amendment rights.
“We want to have a say in our government and what’s going on,” Cole said, bearing a sign that asked “Am I Next?”
Gordon, whose sign said “Your Right to Bear Arms Doesn’t Override My Right to Stay Alive,” said she felt that she and her friends had to step in where adults and divine intervention had failed.
“If nobody is going to do it and our prayers are not answered then we are going to have to make a start,” she said.
They all voiced a concern that other students have made, that it is too easy to get military-style assault weapons.
“It’s definitely scary that’s so easy to get access to these guns and that there is nothing we can do about it,” Bunton said, whose sign said "Yes, Guns Kill People."
They also are concerned about campus security.
“It is not like security on campus can stop someone from entering the school,” Cole said. “The school resource officer is often not at the entrance.”
There are so many ways to sneak onto Lincoln’s campus, it wouldn’t matter, Bunton said.
“Someone could get in without being seen and start shooting,” she said.
"You can make a difference"
Shelby Taubenkimmel and Jessica Benson ran into each other at the rally in front of the Old Capitol and greeted each other with a big hug, chatted about who else they’ve seen.
“I really wanted to support the Douglas students that are in high school still,” Taubenkimmel said. “It is so difficult to thank that you can make a difference at that age.”
Benson said the rally and march should show kids “that it’s possible for people to stand up.”
Benson and fellow Douglas alumni Matthew Harris, a freshman at FSU, greeted the Douglas students as they arrived in Tallahassee Tuesday night.
Harris has always been interested in politics, and started the high school’s politics club with Benson’s sister a few years ago. But the shooting galvanized him. His best friend’s sister was shot and wounded, and another friend’s sister, Carmen Schentrup, was killed.
“I feel like I want to be more active," Harris said. "I texted the mayor of Parkland and told her I am ready to do whatever he needs me to do.”
"They are still stalling"
Richard Hoye, an American History teacher at Millennium Collegial Academy in Broward County, came up Monday night to the capital, followed by a busload of about 50 people Wednesday.
“We come up here every year asking the Legislature for better funding for education,” he said. “I feel like the effort is futile.”
It isn’t just about raises, either. With enough extra dollars the school districts could do more for students with mental illness, he said.
“Why can’t we have more money for security? Why can’t we have more school resource officers?” he asked. “Sometimes schools have to share a resource officer. There is a lot they can do up here.”
Nobody wants to take away people’s guns, said Hoye, who used to be in law enforcement.
“We just want some common sense reform,” he said.
He’s disappointed by the Legislature’s lack of leadership and their lack of respect for the students who have come here to try to get something done to make sure there are no more school shootings like the one at Parkland.
The toughest thing for him as a history and civics teacher is having to go back to work after a tragic event that tears up the community, and answer his students’ questions.
“The toughest was, ‘What are they going to do to keep it from happening again’,” Hoye said. “To me, that is sad because they won’t do anything without the proper motivation.”
Newtown was a warning shot of things to come, he said, and the Legislature should have done something then.
“Now it happened in our backyard,” he said, “and they are still stalling.”
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More Leon high schoolers chime in
Teja Ganji, Rickards High School junior:
We want lawmakers to realize how much of a problem this has been becoming and that an action needs to be taken immediately. I want to tell the (Stoneman Douglas) students, ‘We’re all here for you in this period of grief.'
Alaina Stephens, Leon High School senior:
There is no way to eliminate school shootings or guns in the hands of the wrong people, but there is still benefit to changing gun laws to diminish those chances.
To the Parkland students coming to Tallahassee, there will be people who will attend this rally for sheer political reasons and to stir up hatred and arguments, but myself and many of the Leon students will be there to show our love and support through this difficult time, and we will help their voices be heard.
Alex Hargiss, Chiles High School junior:
I am going to stand up for an issue that should’ve been dealt with years ago. I want to stand with the Parkland High School students who sadly had a first-hand experience of the terrible event that occurred last week.
I hope that (lawmakers) truly understand that this isn’t just a "mental health issue," it is a gun issue. Frankly, it appears that politicians and American “leaders” would rather keep their hefty paychecks from the NRA than ban or put tougher restrictions on military weapons saving the lives of many people in America.
-Democrat staff writer Ryan Dailey