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Fathers of Parkland shooting victims attend State of the Union

Fathers of Parkland shooting victims attend State of the Union (WPEC)

Fathers who lost their children in the Parkland massacre nearly a year ago attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Manuel Oliver, activist and father of the slain student, Joaquin, was invited by Congressman Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland and has been behind Oliver’s fight to combat gun violence.

Oliver hoped his presence will remind the nation about gun safety and about how urgent this issue is to him.

“Nobody deserves to go through what he [Joaquin] went through. So for us, it’s just doing our role,” Oliver said.

He wants to make sure what happened to his son, ‘Guac’, doesn’t happen again. He and his wife, Patricia, carry their son’s story through artwork.

It’s their way to tackle the growing crisis.

“Every time they ask me what makes you do that, it’s my son. I think every father should do the same thing, but it’s better to do it while your kid is alive,” Oliver said. “Whatever we’re doing, it’s been very painful, but for some reason, I have some feeling that it’s working.”

Oliver recently took a jab at President Trump’s idea of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican boarder by painting a mural of his son along a fence.

He claims the “real national emergency” is the thousands of innocent lives lost each year because of gun violence.

“I wrote in Spanish, ‘Del otro lado, tambien matan a nosotros hijos,’ which means, on the other side, they also murder our kids. I needed to warn them,” Oliver said. “The American dream could turn into something really painful. They also murder our kids.”

Two South Florida Representatives took to Twitter after the State of the Union address, calling out on the President who they said failed to address gun violence directly.

“President Trump’s party is in the minority in the House because Americans are fed up with Congress’ refusal to take action on gun reform. President Trump failed to address it,” tweeted U.S. Rep Deutch.

“We have to do more for the countless victims of #gunviolence in our nation. This is a crisis - Trump, when will you and Republicans join with Democrats to finally pass the commonsense gun safety legislation we so desperately need?” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel.

Meanwhile, CBS12 News asked Oliver what he plans to do on the anniversary of his son’s death.

“February 14th is a great opportunity for us to make a statement,” he said.

Oliver said he will be in New York City fighting for change by painting a strong message on the side of a building. He said this will be happening simultaneously around the nation – from Parkland, to Chicago, to Los Angeles.

We will stay on top of it.

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