Fighting gun violence after shooting gives teens purpose

Angelina Lazo, 18, center, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, holds a sign with other students and parents at an intersection near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
Updated 20 February 2018

Fighting gun violence after shooting gives teens purpose

PARKLAND, Florida: Chris Grady was a theater kid counting down the days until he reported for duty in the US Army this summer, when a gunman opened fire at his school. As he huddled in his classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Wednesday listening to shots ring out nearby, what he felt wasn’t fear, but anger.
“Full-on anger,” the thin, curly haired 19-year-old said.
Grady’s anger deepened the day after the shooting, when he heard news that the FBI had failed to follow up on a tip about the former student who police say gunned down 14 students and three staff members with an AR-15 styled rifle. News also emerged that Nikolas Cruz had legally purchased the gun despite a documented history of mental health issues.
The FBI received a tip last month that Cruz had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate, the agency acknowledged Friday. Others had received warnings as well: Records show the Florida Department of Children and Families investigated, but concluded Cruz wasn’t a danger to himself or others.
On Friday, as gun-control debates raged anew on social media, one of Grady’s close friends created a Twitter account, @NeverAgainMSD, to channel the students’ anger and frustration.
“The Never Again movement started formulating, and we got to work,” Grady said.
Grady and his friend are among about 100 Stoneman Douglas students who are heading to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, to push lawmakers to do something to stop gun violence. They also plan to maintain the momentum by attending what they hope will be a massive march on Washington next month.
The efforts have offered students a way to channel their anger and sadness into action. Grady’s life was upended by the shooting. But now, as one of the organizers behind the students’ call for stricter gun-control laws, he is laser-focused on planning and media interviews.
On Tuesday, he will ride a bus to Tallahassee. On Wednesday, he and a small group of Never Again organizers will fly back to Parkland for a televised Town Hall meeting about the shooting. Then their focus will turn to the planned March for Life on the nation’s capital on March 24.
That doesn’t leave a lot of time for school.
“If we’ve got to take some extra days off, that’s fine to continue the movement,” he said. “Academics have been put on the back burner.”
Prior to the shooting, Chris’ time was spent studying theater and working out to get his body in shape for the Army, where he wants to pursue a career in information technology. The second-oldest of four kids, he moved to Parkland from Massachusetts when he was 6. His mother is a property manager, and his step-father is an electrician.
Given his interest in a military career, Chris said he is not anti-gun and supports the Second Amendment. But he believes assault rifles such as the AR-15 styled rifle that authorities say Cruz used should be reserved for the military.
“They’re weapons of war made to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible,” he said.
Grady said he’s ready to work as much as it takes to keep the gun-control movement’s momentum going until he ships out.
“The kids in Newtown were too young to understand what happened and were too young to have their own voice,” he said, referring to the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 Connecticut school shooting. “We want to be the voice for those kids and thousands of others who have been affected by tragedies like this.”


India reimposes movement curbs on parts of Kashmir’s main city after clashes

Updated 18 August 2019

India reimposes movement curbs on parts of Kashmir’s main city after clashes

  • There were violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured
  • India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed

SRINAGAR: Indian authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in major parts of Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, on Sunday after violent overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured, two senior officials and eyewitnesses said.
In the past 24 hours, there has been a series of protests against New Delhi’s Aug. 5 revocation of the region’s autonomy. This followed an easing in curbs on movement on Saturday morning.
The state government has said that it has not imposed a curfew over the past two weeks, but on Sunday people were being turned back at multiple roadblocks set up in the city in the past few hours. Security forces at some roadblocks have told residents there is a curfew.
Two senior government officials told Reuters that at least two dozen people were admitted to hospitals with pellet injuries after violent clashes broke out in the old city on Saturday night.
Representatives in the Jammu and Kashmir government in Srinagar and the federal government in New Delhi did not immediately return calls asking about the latest clampdown or seeking an assessment of the number of injuries and clashes.
One of the official sources said that people pelted security forces with stones in around two dozen places across Srinagar. He said that the intensity of the stone pelting protests has increased over past few days.
The heavy overnight clashes took place mostly in Rainawari, Nowhetta and Gojwara areas of the old city where Indian troops fired tear smoke, chilly grenades and pellets to disperse protesters, eyewitnesses and officials said.
Chilly grenades contain very spicy chili pepper, and produce a major eye and skin irritant, as well as a pungent smell, when they are unleashed.
The officials, who declined to be identified because they aren’t supposed to talk to the media, said clashes also took place in other parts of the city including Soura, a hotbed of protests in the past two weeks.
A senior government official and hospital authorities at Srinagar’s main hospital said that at least 17 people came there with pellet injuries. They said 12 were discharged while five with grievous injuries were admitted.
The hospital officials and a police officer told Reuters that a 65-year-old man, Mohammad Ayub of Braripora, was admitted to the hospital after he had major breathing difficulties when tear gas and chilly grenades were fired in old city area on Saturday afternoon. He died in the hospital on Saturday night and has already been buried, they said.
Javed Ahmad, age 35 and from the wealthy Rajbagh area of Srinagar, was prevented from going to the old city early Sunday morning by paramilitary police at a barricade near the city center. “I had to visit my parents there. Troops had blocked the road with concertina wire. They asked me to go back as there was curfew in the area,” he said.
Telephone landlines were restored in parts of the city on Saturday after a 12-day blackout and the state government said most telephone exchanges in the region would start working by Sunday evening. Internet and cell phones remain blocked in Kashmir.
More than 500 political or community leaders and activists remained in detention, and some have been flown to prisons outside the state.
For 30 years in the part of Kashmir that it controls, India has been fighting a revolt in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.
The change will allow non-residents to buy property in Jammu and Kashmir, and end the practice of reserving state government jobs for local residents.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said the measure is necessary to integrate Kashmir fully into India and speed up its development.