Manuel Oliver said he climbed a construction crane so ‘the whole world will listen to Joaquin’ on the anniversary of the Parkland shooting
Today marks the four-year anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Manuel Oliver’s 17-year-old son Joaquin “Guac” Oliver was one of the 17 victims, and since his son’s death, Oliver has been using his art as a form of protest in the battle against gun violence. This year, Oliver took his art to new heights and scaled a 150-foot crane in Washington, D.C., to share a powerful message.
Oliver and another unfurled a massive banner from the top of the crane with a message for President Biden, who gun control activists feel is not fulfilling his campaign promises of taking tough action on gun violence. “45K people died from gun violence on your watch!” Oliver wrote in a message clearly meant for the president. The black and white banner features a portrait of Oliver’s late son, along with a QR code that leads to Shock Market, a project by Guns Down America that is “tracking gun violence losses under Biden.”
Just before revealing the banner, Oliver sent out a couple of tweets, explaining that “the whole world will listen to Joaquin today. He’s got a very important message,” as gusts of wind drowned out some of his other words in one video.
“I asked for a meeting with Joe Biden, about a month ago. Never got that meeting,” he said in one video, noting a police presence forming on the ground below him. Oliver and an accomplice were escorted down from the crane around 10 a.m.
Photos of Oliver being arrested by police emerged on social media shortly after he was escorted from the protest site. Non-profit advocacy group Change the Ref, which Oliver co-founded with his wife Patricia Oliver in honor of their son, confirmed with The Guardian that Oliver had been taken into custody.
Manuel Oliver wants to follow up with President Biden on some promises he made while campaigning
Back in December, Oliver traveled to D.C. without an invite to the White House in hopes of talking to President Biden about his plan against gun violence.
“There is no time for a formal invitation, and I’m here,” Oliver told WUSA9 at the time. “We don’t need to waste any more time. I’m going to do something that I haven’t done yet. I’m going back to a person I already met while he was campaigning for president and I’m planning to have him receive me and I want some answers. Everything that we talked about, what’s the agenda, what’s the plan? Since Joaquin was murdered, more than 150,000 people have lost their lives because of gun violence.”
President Biden has not directly responded to Oliver’s protest, but he did release a statement marking the anniversary of the shooting while also outlining his administration’s “comprehensive plan to reduce gun crime.”
“We stand with Americans in every corner of our country who have lost loved ones to gun violence or had their lives forever altered by a shooting” and “those working to end this epidemic of gun violence.”