Parkland father puts bulletproof vest on ‘Fearless Girl’ statue to protest mass shootings
For an hour on Friday, New York’s “Fearless Girl” statue was a little more fearful.
Manuel Oliver lost his 17-year-old son, Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February. In a move to protest mass shootings in the United States, Oliver placed a bulletproof vest on the statue on Friday, and it stayed there for an hour, The Hill reported.
— Change the Ref (@ChangeTheRef) November 2, 2018
Change the Ref, a gun safety organization that Oliver and his wife, Patricia, founded after the tragedy, issued a statement about the vest, using the hashtag #FearfulGirl to describe the protest. “The Fearless Girl is undeniably brave, but bravery isn’t bulletproof,” Change the Ref told The Hill in a statement.
Oliver told Newsweek that local police officers were “supportive” of his placing the vest on the statue, even though he had to take it down after an hour of protest.
“I knew I wasn’t allowed to have the vest on the statue,” Oliver told Newsweek. “I get it, but the reaction was very supportive, even from police officers. They understood what I was doing.”
Oliver also told Newsweek that he and his family left Venezuela to get “away from gun violence” in their country. “We ran away from gun violence, so let’s not support gun violence here,” he said. “We came here for a new life. We were the unlucky ones, we lost our son.”
This isn’t Oliver’s first foray into protest art, either. As Change the Ref’s website explains, the organization “uses urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic.” One of Oliver’s other recent art projects included printing a life-size, 3D figure of his son and displaying it in Times Square, The Hill noted. The intent was to protest the 3-D printing of firearms.
A 3D-printed statue of teen Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, one of the victims from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, has been unveiled in #TimesSquare to protest 3D guns. #GuacIsBack #3Dactivist pic.twitter.com/rca6vSzhGu
— Times Square (@TimesSquareNYC) October 25, 2018
Kristen Visbal’s “Fearless Girl” statue, meanwhile, has stood across from Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” since 2017. Officials revealed earlier this year that the statue will be moved to a new location within New York City, to be closer to the New York Stock Exchange.
Oliver’s latest protest comes just before the midterm elections on Tuesday. Earlier this week, Time magazine reported that gun control organizations have spent more money than the NRA on this year’s elections. A gun control initiative will appear on the ballot in Washington state. But even in states where gun control measures are not on the ballot this election, gun control could be a deciding factor for many midterm voters’ decisions.