Many Parkland students have turned to activism in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. Some advocate for gun control, some against it.
Patrick Petty, older brother of one of the shooting victims, is one of the students who tried to invite conservative speaker Charlie Kirk to speak at Stoneman Douglas High. For Petty, Kirk represents a new viewpoint on how to talk about guns at his school.
“Personally, I want it to be a wholesome conversation about different viewpoints because we aren’t seeing a lot of that in the mainstream media. We aren’t seeing that there is another side,” Petty said.
Charlie Kirk founded Turning Point USA when he was 18 years old. As he said at the 2016 Republican National Convention, his organization’s mission is to grow a grassroots conservative network in schools.
“Our slogan is, ‘big government sucks,” Kirk said.
School administrators have declined to let students organize any events on campus citing security concerns. In a statement to WLRN News, Broward district spokeswoman Cathleen Brennan wrote, “…non-school sponsored, student-initiated guest speaker assemblies/meetings are not permitted to take place on campus.”
However, administrators did meet with Petty and one of his classmates, and Kirk is set to speak in Parkland on April 24, time and place to-be-determined. Petty said he understands the school’s security reasoning - and that they’re currently looking for another venue.
Through it all, Petty said he's standing up for his younger sister Alaina, 14, who was killed in the Feb. 14 shooting.
“That’s something I have been looking out for, is to make sure that her name isn’t used in a way that she wouldn’t have agreed with, or in a way that wouldn’t honor her for who she was,” Petty said.