By : Karen Ocamb
Revised: by Christina Ann
Parkland, Florida did not need any more evidence that gun violence hits close to home. But gun violence persists: on Tuesday, July 17, Ayub Ali, the 61-year old owner of Aunt Molly’s Food Store in North Lauderdale, was shot and killed during a robbery. Ali, a native of Bangladesh, leaves his wife Farhana and their four children, two of whom, a son and daughter, survived the Parkland shootings last February.
The tragic news broke as a group of student survivors were in Los Angeles as part of their national summer bus tour, March For Our Lives: Road to Change, organized to educate young people about gun violence, the obstructionist lobbying campaigns of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the power of a voter-savvy youth movement to change what has heretofore been an intractable deadly scourge.
The 20-state tour is complimented by a separate tour— with a number of LGBT activists—visiting every congressional district in Florida. The students are intentionally hitting areas with strong NRA supporters to engage in civil dialogue and debate over gun safety and register young people to vote.
At some stops, the activists meet with local officials and leaders and hold community events and town halls, partnering with local organizations to share the platform with local activists or survivors.
“Youth are leading the charge of civic engagement in California and we now have more than 166,000 total 16 and 17 year-olds who have pre-registered to vote,” said Padilla. “But we are looking forward to getting to 200,000 by the Midterms and with the leadership of Mayor Garcetti and his new citywide initiative, I have no doubt we will.”
Please note: the Los Angeles Blade is featuring an interview with March For Our Lives bisexual leader Emma Gonzales for the next issue’s cover story. Also look for the story online at losangelesblade.com
At the end of the town hall, the Parkland students asked that the audience buy the “merch,” which is how the tour is being funded. The merch includes technology tee shirts where the stars in the stars and stripes flag is really a code that when scanned goes to a link with voter registration information. Perhaps because of the nature of discussion, the Parkland students announced that the proceeds from the sale of that night’s merch would go to Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles.