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'A Little Sacrifice': Manny Oliver, Father Of Parkland Shooting Victim, Climbs Construction Tower In DC To Drop Banner Calling For Biden To Pass Gun Legislation

WASHINGTON D.C. (CBSMiami) -- Marking four years since his son Joaquin was murdered in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, Manuel Oliver climbed a construction tower next to the White House to drop a banner calling for President Biden to pass gun legislation.

Then he was taken into police custody, and released several hours later.

Monday evening, he told CBS4 why he did it.

"We've been trying, always, to convince people that this is not the normal, this is not a thing you should accept. You have to reject this, you have to be offended. Today was another way of doing it.  I saw that crane and I have to take total responsibility," he said. "I ended up in jail, but, you know what, it was totally worth it. It was a little sacrifice, and when you combine this to the more than 200,000 victims of gun violence since my son was shot, it's just nothing."

Oliver says nothing he's asking from the president is impossible to do.

He wants him to address gun violence as a priority and to name a person to be in charge of stopping gun violence at a national level.

While atop the 150-foot tower, he posted a video on Twitter saying there was a lot of police presence beneath him as he worked to post the banner. Oliver said the message and banner are in honor of Joaquin.

He said in the video, while wearing a safety vest, hard hat, and googles, that he's standing on the crane so the "whole world will listen to Joaquin."

"He has a very important message," Oliver says in the video. "I asked for a meeting with Joe Biden a month ago. Never got that meeting. So now I'm back with Joaquin. Now you're going to have to [unintelligible]. Good luck with that. We'll see you in a bit.

"A lot of police presence down there, which is fine. But again, Happy Valentine's. To all of you from Joaquin Oliver."

In a separate tweet, Oliver said he asked President Biden in December for a meeting.

"Today GUAC is with me making he's [sic] own statement! So, the whole nation can judge our reality. 150 feet high in front of the WH. Peaceful action. Police is on the ground!"

Also on the ground, a poster that reads, "Peaceful action in progress. It's just my dad helping me make a statement. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Joaquin Oliver poster at bottom of crane
(Courtesy: JP Hervis)

Joaquin Oliver, 17, was one of 14 students and three staff members gunned down on Valentine's Day 2018.

President Biden has released a statement on the Parkland shooting saying his administration stands with the advocates working to end gun violence and is urging the nation to uphold what he calls the "solemn obligation" to "keep each other safe."

"Out of the heartbreak of Parkland a new generation of Americans all across the country marched for our lives and towards a better, safer America for us all," Biden said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

"Together, this extraordinary movement is making sure that the voices of victims and survivors and responsible gun owners are louder than the voices of gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association," Biden said.

Joaquin's mother, Patricia Oliver said on CNN Monday morning, the message her husband is sending is an important one.

"Manuel still is Joaquin's dad. He's representing Joaquin in a way to be heard. Since we were in the White House in December, expecting being seen by Joe Biden our President, he didn't receive us. So we had to find a way to send a message. Today is a special day because sadly it's our fourth year without Joaquin."

Since the Parkland shooting, gun violence at schools has only risen. The gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety says there were at least 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31.


Oliver, along with other Parkland parents, survivors and advocates are also launching a gun violence tracker on Monday, called the Shock Market Index.

Joaquin Oliver Banner
(Courtesy: JP Hervis)

Supported by Change the Ref, Guns Down America and March for Our Lives, the Shock Market gun violence tracker is described as a way to "arm Americans with tools to demand the kind of bold executive action from President Biden that he promised to deliver as a candidate.

Creators say, "While President Biden and other politicians in Washington are tuned to financial indicators like economic growth and the stock market, they are neglecting another important index of our nation's health - the growing level of gun violence.  Shock Market is a disruptive idea that brings attention to the mass suffering caused by guns while exerting pressure on the administration to act."

Using near real-time data, the Shock Market tracks gun violence that is taking place under the Biden administration— more than 44,000 as of today– giving Americans the ability to share with the President and his Administration  the alarming rates of  gun violence epidemic via Twitter. Each piece of content is paired with actionable requests to apply pressure, create progress, and help save lives.  The first step is to get Biden to deliver a comprehensive plan at the state of the union.

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