One Year Later: Reflections on Parkland
January 24, 2020
Parkland was a small town in southern Florida with not much going on. It was the kind of town that if someone mentioned it, no one would know where you were talking about.
Parkland was a small town in southern Florida with not much going on. It was the kind of town that if someone mentioned it, no one would know where you were talking about. That all changed about a year ago on February 14, 2018. Now when you mention Parkland, Florida, people remember the horrific events that occurred that February morning at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It is astonishing to see that after a year has passed, the mass shooting that killed 17 students and faculty is still affecting the school, its citizens, and especially those who lost loved ones.
Parents have nightmares about their children being harmed at school. For the parents of 17 Stoneman Douglas High School students, this became a reality. These parents still struggle with the grief of knowing they won’t see their children again. While they struggle with their pain daily, they continue to make an influence by sharing their stories. Many parents have taken a stand to talk about issues like gun policies. Students have also taken a stand to share about their altered lives. For such young people, they are taking big steps by addressing real issues that plague this country. Many have become activists, who stress the importance of young-adult voters.
Recently, a Parkland furniture store CEO Keith Koenig received backlash for supporting Robert Runcie, the superintendent of Stoneman Douglas High School. Koenig has worked with a committee to produce over $10 million to improve the general safety of high schools. Despite this, he is choosing to support a man who neglected to put the safety of hundreds of kids first. Enraged parents explained that little to no action was taken to discipline Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, for the poor behavior he exhibited during the years prior to the shooting. He fought in school, vandalized the school buildings, and had outbursts of anger in the classroom. Despite all this, Koenig supports Runcie because of his influence on graduation rates and efforts to increase school safety and security.
There is another controversy regarding Scott Israel, former sheriff of Broward County. He has recently been suspended for not preventing the school shooting and taking proper action. Israel had made questionable changes to the active shooters policy in his department before February 14. Even after the Fort Lauderdale shooting, which occurred a year prior, Israel failed to edit the policies he instituted to ensure the safety of Parkland citizens. As a result, police had a delayed response. Israel also did not take preventative measures after he was made aware of several threats of possible shootings prior to the attack on Stoneman Douglas High School. After the shooting, he did not discipline any deputies or take responsibility for the lack of information the deputies had. Rather, he labeled himself as an exceptional leader. His failure to take responsibility paired with his blasé attitude has left him in hot water.
For many people, their lives will never be the same. They are faced with a constant, saddening reminder. Regardless, many do not shy away from the issue, but address it in important conversations. There will be no change if people do not act, as many affected by the attack in Parkland have taken measures to address. They devote themselves to enlightening people about gun control, voting mobilization, activism. Violence hurts in the present and in the future; it must stop.