Appearing at the Washington D.C. rally, Manuel and Patricia Oliver, who lost their son Joaquin Oliver in the Parkland, Florida school shooting announced the formation of I Will Avoid. A part of the Oliver’s Change the Ref foundation, I Will Avoid asks students to “avoid returning to school until President Biden and Congressional leaders enact meaningful gun violence prevention measures.”
Speaking to the crowd gathered in Washington, Manuel said, “Our elected officials have betrayed us and avoid the responsibility to end gun violence…Today we announce a new call to action, because I think it’s time to bring a consequence to their inaction.”
He added, “If lawmakers who have the power to keep us safe from gun violence are going to avoid taking action that will save our lives, then young people across this country, everyone else who can hear my voice should also avoid. Avoid attending school if your leaders fail to do the job and keep us safe from gun violence.”
Manuel, who was joined onstage by David Hogg, encouraged students across all levels of education to sign the I Will Avoid pledge. Available online, the pledge reads, “I pledge allegiance to the legacy of all victims of gun violence and will avoid school until our leaders pass gun laws capable of bringing safety and justice for all.”
Saturday’s nationwide marches were held after the May 24 shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school left 21 people dead. The shooting was one of more than 200 mass shootings that have occurred in the United States this year.