At least two conservative survivors of the Parkland school shooting and their family members were snubbed by the March for Our Lives organizers.
Hunter Pollack, the older brother of 18-year-old Meadow, who died shielding a classmate from bullets, said he was denied a speaking slot at the March, which drew hundreds of thousands of people Saturday.
“You got kids here that they don’t want to hear from….These kids think with common sense. These kids are the future,” said Meadow’s father, Andrew Pollack in a video where Hunter read part of the speech he had planned to give honoring his sister.
The movement started by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School adopted a pro-gun-control message, led in part by outspoken survivors David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez.
“They don’t really care about the victims’ families,” Hunter said. “I don’t know what this is about but it’s definitely not about mourning individuals.”
“My sister was living an amazing life….She had so much to offer the world and had so much ahead of her,” he read from the speech he wrote. “She is dead because of the madness of one young man and his determination to kill was greater than our desire to stop him.”
The survivors and family members of victims who have emphasized mental health and school safety over stricter gun control have not received nearly as much media attention after the shooting, despite their advocacy for reform.
Another survivor, Kyle Kashuv, said he was also not invited to speak at the D.C. march. The junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been vocal in his support for gun reform since the tragedy and stresses school safety.
Kashuv criticized his classmate David Hogg for “egregious and inflammatory” rhetoric, and called Hogg’s hanging up on a White House call inviting him to a school-safety event “dumb and immature.”
“It paints a bad light on our entire generation,” he said. “Guns aren’t the issue. It’s everything surrounding acquiring a weapon….Where was the call for no more failures by law enforcement?”
He said he has spoken to many marchers and remarked they do not know what they are marching for.
“They think they are marching to end school violence but in reality, the ‘March for Our Lives’ website has it listed that they want to ban assault rifles.”
Kashuv met with both the president and vice president as well as lawmakers about gun reform earlier this month. He spoke to First Lady Melania Trump about an app he is working on that will help students reach out for help when they are in danger.
“Many, many dislike me, however I don’t pay attention to criticism,” Kashuv told USA Today. “Parkland will be remembered as the beginning of the end of shootings.”
Patrick Petty, whose sister Alaina, 14, died in the shooting last month, tweeted at survivor Emma Gonzalez asking her not to use his sister’s name to “push your agenda.”
Hey @Emma4Change please stop using my sister’s name to push your agenda, she DID NOT and WOULD NOT support it
— Patrick Petty (@Patrickpetty23) March 24, 2018
Petty later called out those accusing him of not caring about the victims and gave a shoutout to Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and his classmate Kashuv.
There were many failures that lead to the shooting at #MSDStrong however, to imply that people like @marcorubio @rpetty @KyleKashuv and myself along with millions of others,don’t care about the lives lost because we are #2A supporters is despicable. I lost my sister, I care. https://t.co/Zv6SMTMnIH
— Patrick Petty (@Patrickpetty23) March 26, 2018
Rubio promoted newly allocated funds for school saftey and mental-health initiatives last week.
In addition to #STOPSchoolViolenceAct in the Omnibus we were able to get $75M for the Comprehensive School Safety Initative,a $47m increase for school safety grant programs & $700m increase in grants to school districts for school counselors & school-based mental health
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 22, 2018