A Republican congressman who attacked one of the Parkland shooting survivors online over her Cuban heritage has said his meme against Emma Gonzalez was justified because she is promoting communism.
González, 18, took to the stage at Saturday’s March for Our Lives, wearing a Cuban flag badge, to mark the death of her 17 classmates and teachers who were gunned down in the fatal shooting in February.
Gonzalez’s six-and-a-half minute speech brought the crowd to tears as she thanked the people who came out to call for gun control.
But Iowa Rep. Steve King’s campaign chose to mock the teenager over her Cuban heritage.
Rep. Steve King’s (pictured) campaign chose to mock the teenager, who was wearing a Cuban flag, over her Cuban heritage
‘This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense,’ the campaign wrote in a post, over a photo of the teen.
The post sparked fury on social media where people hit out at the campaign for bullying the teen.
But a spokesperson for King defended the meme.
‘The meme in question merely points out the irony of someone pushing gun control while wearing the flag of a country that was oppressed by a communist, anti-gun regime,’ King’s representative told the New York Daily News.
‘Pretty simple, really.’
Gonzalez’s schoolmate, David Hogg, who has also taken a leadership role in the anti-gun protests that erupted after the massacre, blasted King on Twitter and came to the defense of his fellow student.
Gonzalez’s schoolmate, David Hogg, who has also taken a leadership role in the anti-gun protests that erupted after the massacre, blasted King on Twitter and came to the defense of his fellow student
Hogg then called on Marco Rubio, the senator from his home state of Florida who like Gonzalez is also of Cuban descent, to challenge King
King then tweeted that if young people shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun before age 21, then they shouldn’t be allowed to vote either
Hogg responded: ‘Maybe because so many of us are gunned down before we even become 21’
‘She’s a beautiful woman of Cuban descent and we love her,’ Hogg tweeted.
‘You would too if you ever got the chance to meet her. We need to love each other as Americans regardless [sic] of our descent, ethnicity or race.’
Hogg then called on Marco Rubio, the senator from his home state of Florida who like Gonzalez is also of Cuban descent, to challenge King.
‘Hey @marcorubio, @Emma4change’s family fled Cuba to escape totalitarianism and live in freedom just like your family could you please respond to @SteveKingIA?’
King then tweeted that if young people shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun before age 21, then they shouldn’t be allowed to vote either.
‘If you are a teenager & believe you won’t be responsible enough to own a gun until 21, why should you vote before 21?’ King tweeted.
Hogg responded: ‘Maybe because so many of us are gunned down before we even become 21.
‘You prove exactly why so many American’s are done with politicians like you who only have the goal of dividing America to make us weaker.’
Earlier on Tuesday, social media users expressed outrage over the King campaign’s meme.
‘Are you SERIOUSLY mocking a school shooting survivor for her ethnic identity?!’ wrote Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
Emma González, 18, took to the stage at Saturday’s March for Our Lives to mark the death of her 17 classmates and teachers who were gunned down in the fatal shooting in February
Gonzalez’s six-and-a-half minute speech brought the crowd to tears as she thanked the people who came out to call for gun control
‘When it was my community, where were you? When it was Sandy Hook? Columbine? Were you on the sideline mocking those communities too? Did you question someone identifying as a mother? Did you question whether people like me were crisis actors?
‘Emma stood for 6 mins and 20 seconds to honor the lives of 17 gone too soon,’ Wolf added.
‘The least you could do is shut your privileged, ineffective trap for 6 seconds to hear someone else’s perspective.’
King’s campaign hit back, claiming they weren’t picking on the teen, but were ‘calling attention to the truth’.
‘Pointing out the irony of someone wearing the flag of a communist country while simultaneously calling for gun control isn’t ‘picking’ on anyone.
‘It’s calling attention to the truth, but we understand that lefties find that offensive,’ they wrote.
González, whose father migrated to New York from Cuba in 1968, has become one of the most recognizable faces of the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors.
But the teen has become a target for the right as she calls for gun control in the wake of the tragedy.
Recently, NRA enthusiasts have been accused of photoshopping the Teen Vogue cover that features Gonzalez to show her tearing up a copy of the Constitution.
She is actually tearing up a paper target on the cover of the magazine, while her fellow classmates stand in solidarity behind her.
A fake image of Gonzalez ripping up the Constitution circulated on social media. The real video shows her tearing up target paper
Emma Gonzalez, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who survived the Parkland shooting on February 14, rips up target paper for Teen Vogue cover
Teen Vogue tweeted the cover of their March issue featuring some of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Teen Vogue tweeted the cover with with the caption: ‘We, the youth of the United States, have built a new movement to denounce gun violence and call for safety in all of our communities. This is only the beginning.’
The cover attracted a lot of attention from Trump followers and NRA supporters alike.
Many were quick to condemn and attack the high school students on Twitter with one person writing: ‘Look at these little oppressors. I hope my daughter never lives in the world they imagine.’
The cover attracted a lot of attention from Trump followers and NRA supporters
Many people in the Twittersphere were quick to condemn and attack the high school students
Many were unimpressed with Gonzalez ripping the paper and looking angry
However there were some people in support of the children. ‘I’m glad for the first time in human history people are against murder,’ the twitter user said
Many were unimpressed with Gonzalez ripping the paper with one man sarcastically tweeting: ‘Oh no. You tore up a target. Wherever will we find more…paper?’ while another user wrote: ‘Let the children lead us…into ripping a target in half and scowling.’
However there were some people in support of the children. ‘I’m glad for the first time in human history people are against murder,’ the Twitter user said.
Saturday’s rally in Washington DC to fight gun control marked the biggest youth protest since Vietnam.
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out for the DC event, with 800 more events being held across world.
The rally, which was organized by the survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, saw 175,000 people protest in New York.
30,000 were counted in Atlanta and Pittsburgh and 15,000 people attended a rally in Parkland, Florida – where 17 high school students were killed last month.
The movement had a global outreach, with die-ins being held in Berlin and London and marches taking place in Sydney, Mumbai, Tokyo, and Paris as well.
Despite the rally’s across the US on Saturday to protest gun control, many people were still against the high school children
Some social media users blamed the youngsters, claiming they were puppets being used by politicians and seniors
Twitter users condemned the children for their lack of intelligence
The gun control debate continues to rage on both sides with people still arguing it’s infringing on their Second Amendment rights
People were very outspoken on Twitter against the high school students
Gonzalez was one of the lead speakers on Saturday. She stood silent on stage for six minutes and 20 seconds – the same amount of time it took Nikolas Cruz, 19, to kill 17 or her classmates and injure 15 others with an AR-15 that he had obtained legally.
She took the crowd by surprise with her uncomfortable silence, prompting the crowd to cheer support and chant ‘Never again,’ as it seemed they thought she had lost her words due to emotion. Then a time went off, and she spoke.
‘Since the time that I came out here, it has been six minutes and 20 seconds. The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape, and walk free for an hour before arrest,’ she said when she began to speak again.
People didn’t take the Teen Vogue cover seriously and tweeted sarcastic remarks
A lot of Twitter users weren’t interested in listening to the young high school students
‘Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job,’ she said, ending her time of silence.
Gonzalez, who has been an outspoken voice among the Parkland survivors, used the minutes of silence to punctuate an an already moving speech.
‘Six minutes and 20 seconds… In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken, 15 were injured and everyone, absolutely everyone, in the Douglas community was forever altered,’ she said.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez (center) listens with other students during the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, DC on Saturday
Gonzalez was pictured with fellow protesters and classmates at the Washington DC rally
‘Everyone who was there understands. who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands. For us, long, tearful chaotic hours in the scorching afternoon sun were spent not knowing.
‘No one understood the extent of what had happened. No one could believe that there were bodies in that building waiting to be identified for over a day.
‘No one knew that the people who were missing had stopped breathing long before any of us even knew that a code red had been called. No one could comprehend the devastating aftermath or how far this would reach or where this would go.’
She went on to honor some of the lives lost on that day, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.