Merely two days before the new school year in Broward County, following two back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, students, teachers and parent activists in Parkland, Florida organized a protest in front of the local Walmart.
Through the social media efforts of gun control organizations, such as “Change the Ref” and “Moms Demand Action,” news of the plan to protest on Aug. 10 spread quickly, bringing over fifty protestors to the Walmart entrance on Coral Ridge Drive at 11:30 a.m.
After 22 people were shot dead in El Paso, many gun control movements were outraged and blamed the causes of these recurring mass shootings on the current gun laws upheld by the government.
Walmart was quickly placed under the spotlight due to it being the location of the recent shooting in El Paso. In addition to this, Walmart is one of the largest gun suppliers in the nation.
Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Walmart has stopped selling assault-style rifles and raised the purchasing age to 21 years old. However, following the El Paso shooting, Walmart has continued to sell both firearms and ammunition. For this reason, organizations supporting legislation to prevent gun violence decided to stage the protest at Walmart. The activists were organized in an attempt to get large corporations such as Walmart to stop selling guns and stop donating to lawmakers who accept donations from the NRA.
The display was also a homecoming for many big names in activism, such as Manuel Oliver, father of Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver, Emma Gonzalez and Jaclyn Corin, co-founders of March for Our Lives. Along with these well known names in the Parkland and gun advocates community, Orange Ribbons for Gun Safety, Guns Down America, American Federation of Teachers and Florida Gun Violence Prevention Activists also participated in the rally.
“They [Walmart] are a large family company that can benefit or reap the rewards of the finances without having to sell ammo or weapons to people that can get it really quickly that are just gunning down our innocent people and children,” Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union said.
Fusco worked alongside the American Federation of Teachers in the efforts of keeping schools safe and supporting the gun control debate. She and many other teachers were present at the protest sporting their “Broward Teachers Union” shirts while holding up signs and posters.
“I want a more perfect union, what about you? It’s not, “What we do” or “What did we not do” its “What are we doing.” I’m doing this now to stop something that could be dangerous. People are dying, there is no more questioning it. So I came out here today to do something,” Cris Banonte, a local activist and New York arts camp instructor said.
The protesters dispersed around 2:30 p.m. following a long debate between gun control activists and Jeff Hulbert, a counter-protester. Hulbert made an appearance in front of the press in attempts to speak against the views of those protesting Walmart’s firearm sales. Although no harm was brought, there were police present at the event in case of any harm done.
The protest brought awareness about the firearm and ammunition sales that Walmart has continued offering to customers. Through social media, not only were the people passing the protest by the street brought to the attention of these sales, but so were the gun control organizations followers from around the world.