With her chin high and her tears flowing down her face, Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Florida school shooting, stood in silence in front of the thousands who gathered for the “March for Our Lives” rally that occurred in Washington, D.C.
Gonzalez continued to stand silently as some crowd members shouted out their support. She remained to be silent as tentative chants broke out from the crowd. Her silence continued as those who are attending the rally also fell quiet, with many of the people crying.
The gripping moment spanned for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time that Gonzalez said it took the shooter to kill 17 people and wound 15 others at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that is located in Parkland, Florida, last February.
Gonzalez said to the hushed crowd: “Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands.” She described the long hours spent waiting for the authorities to distinguish their murdered classmates, the horror of discovering that many of them had breathed their last breaths before most of the students even knew that a “code red” alert — a code that is designed to warn students and staffers of a possible threat — had been raised.
She said: “Six minutes and 20 seconds with an AR-15 and my friend Carmen (Schentrup) would never complain to me about piano practice.” Her voice was strong, but her throat was momentarily catching. She continued: “Aaron Feis would never call Kyra ‘Miss Sunshine.’ Alex Schachter would never walk into school with his brother Ryan.”
She went on, mentioning name after name of those who were killed at the school on the 14th of February.
And then Gonzalez stopped with her breath heaving. However, she remained to be composed, looking straight ahead to the crowd and silent.
Seemingly not sure about what to do, the crowd waited. Some seemed to grasp her intent right away, watching with their hands covering their mouths, with their foreheads wrinkled and tears falling down their face. Choruses of “never again” broke out for some time, and later someone came out from the wings of the rally stage to place a hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear.
The silence had spread to the thousands that were thronging Pennsylvania Avenue. Parents, protesters, television news crew all waited to see what Gonzalez would do next.
The sound of a digital alarm broke the silence of the venue.
She said in a clear voice: “Since the time that I came out here, it has been six 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 the arrest.”
Gonzalez continued: “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
She is one of the several teens from the Florida school to become activists of gun control in the wake of the Florida school shooting. Their efforts have stimulated the youth across the nation, with hundreds of thousands participating in similar rallies nationwide.
As the three-hour rally ended, Gonzalez gave some homework for the participants of the rally:
“One final plug,” said Gonzalez. “Get out there and vote.”