MARCHING FOR THEIR LIVES

As students converge on Washington, D.C., to push for gun safety laws, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is still uneasy a month after the massacre.

GENARO MOLINA/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
On March 14, Venice (Calif.) High School students participated
in a nationwide walkout declaring a day of action to raise
awareness about the effects of gun violence and push for
lawmakers to take action to reduce it.
COMPILED FROM WIRE

AND STAFF REPORTS

WASHINGTON – On Saturday (after the Florida Courier’s Wednesday night press time), young people around the world will participate in the March for Our Lives, urging lawmakers to find solutions that stop gun violence and mass shootings just over a month after the nation’s deadliest high school shooting in Florida’s Broward County.

The March for Our Lives was organized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students after a former classmate killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day. The students have also been coordinating with gun safety advocacy groups who generally do not support Republican officeholders.

As of Wednesday, the organizers announced that 837 marches will take place around the world, including the main event in Washington, D.C. There are 56 marches scheduled throughout Florida on Saturday, including one in Tallahassee.

Dems to attend
Every Democratic congressional officeholder from South Florida who responded to a query from the Miami Herald newspaper has plans to participate, either in Washington or marches in South Florida. None of the Republican members of Congress had committed to attend marches as of Wednesday night.

The White House declined to answer when asked about President Trump’s schedule on Saturday, though he’s expected to visit his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach this weekend, according to an alert issued to pilots Wednesday morning by the Federal Aviation Administration.

If Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago, he won’t need to go far to find a march, as the West Palm Beach affiliate march is happening two miles away.

But even as students converge on the nation’s capital and hold affiliated marches throughout the country, events at Stone man Douglas continue to remain the nation of the tragedy.

Security beefed up
Gov. Rick Scott has ordered eight Florida Highway Patrol troopers to beef up security at Stoneman Douglas.
The governor offered additional law-enforcement officers Tuesday, after two students were arrested for bringing knives to the school and a third was arrested for making threats on social media.

The day before, Zachary Cruz, the shooter’s younger brother, was arrested after he was caught skateboarding at the Parkland school despite being banned from campus.

Also this week, Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Moises Carotti, the school’s resource officer, was suspended with pay after a student discovered the officer sleeping in his patrol car on Monday.

“Recent events at the school have demonstrated the need for additional security measures to be implemented,” Scott wrote Tuesday to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Parents worried
Scott said parents were worried about safety at the school.

“It is imperative that the proper steps are immediately taken at all schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas to keep students and staff safe. Parents, students and teachers have recently endured one of the worst tragedies in Florida history. They must be assured that every necessary step is being taken to increase safety and ensure no unauthorized people are allowed on campus,” he advised the local officials.

Scott ordered “immediate action be taken to require an armed law enforcement officer to secure every point of entry” at the Parkland high school, offering to provide FHP officers “until a more permanent safety plan can be put into place.”

The governor also ordered Israel and the Broward County school system to tell state education officials “what other steps are being taken to keep students safe on campus.”

All entries covered
Scott’s office announced Wednesday that Israel requested the eight FHP troopers to secure entry points at the high school.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had dozens of encounters with law-enforcement and mental-health professionals over a lengthy period but who was never arrested or institutionalized and who legally purchased the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle – with no waiting period –he is charged with using in the slayings.

In response to the shooting, lawmakers, who were in session when the massacre occurred, hurriedly passed a sweeping measure addressing school safety, guns and mental health.

Arrested, committed
On Tuesday, Israel’s office used one of the provisions in the new law to try to take firearms away from Zachary Cruz, who was also involuntarily committed under the Baker Act for a mental health evaluation after his arrest Monday.

Israel’s office filed a request in circuit court for a “risk protection order” against Zachary Cruz, who is being held on a $500,000 bond. The order would prohibit Cruz from possessing or acquiring guns for a period of time that would be determined by a judge.

Alex Daugherty and Franco Ordonez of the McClatchy Washington Bureau / TNS and Dara Kam of The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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