TAMPA BAY TIMES February 11, 2021 – Stand With Parkland needed to deliver a message to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and they turned to Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart to do it.
For the last three years, the group that represents 15 of the 17 victims’ families of the nation’s deadliest high school shooting has focused almost exclusively on school safety. It’s an issue that doesn’t garner wall-to-wall cable news coverage or dominate political campaigns, but Stand With Parkland’s approach enabled the group to introduce legislation and build trust among lawmakers from both parties — particularly members of Congress from Florida.
But the nation’s biggest political story was now colliding with their school safety work.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a newly elected member of Congress from Georgia who once agreed that the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a “false flag” attack, was assigned by McCarthy to the House Education Committee. Greene’s social media posts and videos of her harassing Parkland survivor and gun control advocate David Hogg had generated national attention and calls for her resignation from Democrats.
And Greene’s position on the Education Committee would make the one-time Parkland denier responsible for considering legislation crafted by Stand With Parkland like the Luke and Alex School Safety Act. Last week, Diaz-Balart reintroduced the bill named after Parkland victims Luke Hoyer and Alex Schachter that would codify into law a federal clearinghouse for school safety measures.
Two families spoke with Greene, and the group decided that her committee assignment hurt their goals of school safety, securing campuses and responsible firearms ownership. They sent their letter to McCarthy. Greene needed to go.
“She was reluctant to recognize the affects of school shootings not just on the families but on the entire community,” said Stand With Parkland President Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was one of the victims. “It led us to believe she couldn’t be effective in stopping the problem.”
In the last three years, the 17 Parkland families became some of the most effective lobbyists in Washington, building relationships with lawmakers, understanding the sausage-making of legislation and crafting public relations strategies. Two parents who aren’t part of Stand With Parkland, Fred Guttenberg and Andrew Pollack, are vocal advocates for different causes. Guttenberg is a well-known gun control advocate while Pollack has pushed for arming and training school personnel to deal with threats and was the only Parkland parent to support Greene.
“The fact that it even came to this place is fascinating,” said Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was one of the victims. Guttenberg shared multiple videos of Greene harassing Hogg on social media and led calls for her removal alongside Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents Parkland in Congress.
So, what’s next? [full source article]