WASHINGTON — The father of a Parkland shooting victim climbed a construction tower in D.C. next to the White House to drop a banner calling for the president of the United States to pass gun legislation.
Manuel Oliver, father of Joaquin Oliver, who was killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in 2018, said he climbed 150 feet on the tower in front of the White House to post a banner demanding gun legislation.
He also posted a video to Twitter on top of the construction tower Monday morning saying that there was a lot of police presence beneath him as he worked to post the banner. Manuel Oliver said the message and banner are in honor of Joaquin.
D.C. police shut down the 600 block of 15th Street Northwest and nearby roads due to the incident. The scene was clearing as of 11 a.m., police said.
Police said they arrested three people following the incident.
Oliver said he was disappointed that so little has changed in terms of gun control since the shooting at his son’s school occurred.
“I hate the fact that we ignore issues and we take so seriously other things,” he said.
Oliver, and his wife Patricia, said they are willing to do whatever it takes to force change on the issue
“You find people dying like my son Joaquin and you find fathers like me, and mothers like Patricia, that are willing to do whatever it takes,” he said.
Oliver added that he knew he would be arrested for the protest, but that was of no concern to him.
“If I need to do this again and again and again, I will do it,” he said. “I will be more than open to do it.”
Patricia Oliver said she and her husband have been fighting for gun safety legislation ever since her son's death. She says sometimes she despairs, but then just goes back to fighting for change.
"What are the choices? No other options," Patricia Oliver said. "Joaquin left us this legacy. They took away our son. And we're not going to take this in vain."
Police charged Manuel Oliver with unlawful entry. A spokesman said he was released a few hours later.
Manuel Oliver is no stranger to unsolicited visits to our nation's capital. In December, Oliver got on a plane to D.C. to try and talk to President Joe Biden about gun violence across the country, with no invite.
Manuel Oliver told WUSA9 in December that he didn't have a formal invitation to see President Biden but planned to go to the White House to ask for answers on what policies are being put in place to bring about change.
“There is no time for a formal invitation, and I’m here," Manuel Oliver said at the time. "We don’t need to waste any more time. I’m going to do something that I haven’t done yet. I’m going back to a person I already met while he was campaigning for president and I’m planning to have him receive me and I want some answers. Everything that we talked about, what’s the agenda, what’s the plan? Since Joaquin was murdered, more than 150,000 people have lost their lives because of gun violence.”
Monday marks four years since the shooting massacre that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The shooting on Valentine's Day inflamed the nation's debate over guns, turned some Parkland students into political activists and gave rise to some of the biggest youth demonstrations since the Vietnam era.
Since then, several groups and activists have pushed for Congress to pass universal background checks on gun purchases.
Florida has a "red flag" gun law implemented. The state law that allows judges to bar anyone deemed dangerous from possessing firearms has been used since its enactment after the 2018 massacre. However, the law is being applied unevenly around Florida.
Supporters believe the measure is needed because the suspect who authorities say killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas four years ago was able to buy guns despite a history of psychotic behavior. Others say it violates the right to bear arms and the right against unlawful seizures of property.