- Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the site of a shooting on Wednesday that left 17 people dead, slammed President Donald Trump’s response.
- Trump has suggested the FBI wasn’t able to prevent the shooting because it was spending too much time on the Russia investigation. He also blamed the Democratic Party for not passing gun-control legislation when it controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House.
- “That’s disgusting,” one student said in response to Trump’s comments. “You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you. Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that.”
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have some words for President Donald Trump.
A shooting at the high school on Wednesday left 17 people dead and a dozen others injured. Authorities have charged 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, in the shooting.
Trump on Saturday suggested that the FBI “missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter” because it was “spending too much time” on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and whether his campaign colluded with Moscow.
The FBI acknowledged on Friday that it had failed to follow protocol on a tip it got about Cruz last month.
Shortly after the president’s comments, Aly Sheehy, a senior at the high school, hit back at Trump.
She tweeted: “17 of my classmates are gone. That’s 17 futures, 17 children, and 17 friends stolen. But you’re right, it always has to be about you. How silly of me to forget.”
Kyra Farrow, another student, echoed Sheehy.
“My friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia,” she tweeted. “I can not believe this.”
She later added: “We don’t need your thoughts & prayers. We need action. We need reform. The survivors of a massacre demand this. Classmates demand this. The community demands this. I refuse to let my friends die in vain. I refuse to let this happen again.”
Morgan Williams, another student, tweeted: “Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!! HAVE A DAMN HEART. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers.'”
Sarah Lerner, a teacher at the high school, also weighed in.
“There IS collusion, you clown,” Lerner tweeted. “Get your head out of your arse & do something about what happened AT MY SCHOOL. This is the REAL NEWS. You came to Florida & didn’t talk to me, my students or my coworkers. You had a photo op & played golf. YOU are a disgrace to MY country.”
Emma Gonzalez, who survived the shooting, defended the FBI after Trump questioned its effectiveness.
“The FBI were some of the amazing first responders who were helping us get to safety, and the fact that he wants to discredit them in any way … it’s not acceptable,” Gonzalez told CNN.
‘For God’s sake, let’s save some lives’
In addition to the FBI, Trump blamed the Democratic Party.
“Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration,” Trump tweeted. “Because they didn’t want to, and now they just talk.”
The Republican Party currently controls the White House and both chambers of Congress, while the Supreme Court has a 5-4 conservative majority – something David Hogg, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pointed out during an interview with his classmates on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
Responding to Trump’s tweet, Hogg said: “How dare you. You are in that exact position right now, and you want to look back on our history and blame the Democrats? That’s disgusting.
“You’re the president,” he continued. “You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you. Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that.
“Please, take action,” Hogg added. “Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-Lago. Take action. Work with Congress. Your party controls both the House and Senate. Take action. Get some bills passed. And for God’s sake, let’s save some lives.”
Giuliana Matamoros, a junior at the school, told Yahoo News she was furious when she saw Trump’s tweets after the shooting.
“I can’t believe that it’s only been four days since the shooting and he has already made it about himself,” she said. “I thought, ‘He obviously doesn’t care about us,’ because he doesn’t.”
She added: “He decided to make the cause of the death of 17 of my peers into something about him. I just really wonder if he ever thought for one second we don’t care about what he has to say. We only care about his actions on making this never happen again.”
Hogg and Gonzalez were among the hundreds of students, teachers, and local officials who attended a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday to demand that Congress and the White House take up gun-control legislation.
Gonzalez, one of the speakers at the rally, excoriated Trump and the National Rifle Association in the wake of the shooting.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said. “But hey, you wanna know something? It doesn’t matter because I already know: $US30 million.”
Meanwhile, in San Diego, more than 100 people gathered in support of a ban on assault rifles, the kind used in the shooting in Florida. And on Friday, a group called Student Walkout Against Gun Violence announced on Twitter that it was planning a nationwide walkout this week in schools across the country to demand action.
On Monday, the White House signalled that Trump was open to supporting gun-control legislation aimed at improving the background-check system.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Trump spoke with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas about a bipartisan bill to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks on prospective gun buyers. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut is a cosponsor of the legislation.
“The president spoke to Sen. Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background-check legislation,” Sanders said. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background-check system.”
Brennan Weiss and Brett LoGiurato contributed reporting.