Emma González — an 18-year-old student who survived the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — stood silently on stage at the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. for six minutes and 20 seconds on Saturday. That was the amount of time it took a gunman to kill 17 people, injure 15 others, and dramatically change her life and the lives of many others.
“Six minutes and about 20 seconds,” González said prior to the “moment” of silence. “In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 were injured and everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered.”
After listing the names of the students and teachers who had been killed and “would never” again do the things they had always done in life, González stood facing the crowd silent, sniffling, emotional, and sometimes with tears running down her face for a prolonged period of time before a timer beeped and she began speaking again.
“Since the time that I came out here,” she said afterward, “it has been 6 minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest.”
“Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job,” she said, closing out her speech.
González was in Washington, D.C. along with her classmates on Saturday to call on lawmakers for stricter gun control. So far, the demonstrations have attracted attention and support of scores of celebrities, politicians, activists, and public figures, including President Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.
Since the shooting in Parkland, the teen survivors have mobilized fellow young people nationwide to use the power of their vote to bring about gun safety laws and to hold accountable lawmakers unwilling to budge on legislation that could hurt businesses affiliated with the National Rifle Association (NRA). In many locations, youth activists and nonprofit leaders also urged those old enough to register to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, if they hadn’t already.
President Trump, who is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida for the weekend, has not yet responded to the protests personally.