Furious Father of Parkland Shooting Victim Stages 1-Man Show, Sues Government, Protests in DC for Gun Laws

Just this month, Manuel Oliver sued the U.S. government for failing to keep his son safe and performed his one-man show that pays tribute to his late son, Joaquin, one of the 17 students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The father of a Parkland shooting victim is using the stage, courts, and Congress in an attempt to change gun laws in the United States.

Manuel Oliver lost his son, Joaquin, in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Joaquin, who friends referred to as "Guac," was a senior at the high school and just months away from graduation when he and 16 others lost their lives.

He loved the Miami Heat and Dwayne Wade, who returned to play for the Heat on Feb. 9, 2018, after being traded at the deadline by the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Joaquin died after being shot four times, just five days after Wade's return.

Wade later paid tribute to Joaquin, who was buried in his jersey, on social media. "This is why we will not just SHUT up and dribble!" wrote the NBA star.

Manuel and his wife, Patricia, have also refused to stay quiet after losing their son, and devoted much time and energy into reforming gun laws across the country.

The couple, who immigrated to this country from Venezuela when Joaquin was just 3, have given speeches and attended protests, but most notably used art to get their message out.

Less than a month after the shooting, Manuel presented a mural featuring an image of his son that read "We Demand a Change," as part of the "Parkland 17" exhibition organized by Wade.

That August, Manuel stood outside the offices if the National Rifle Association and sang "Happy Birthday" on what would have been his son's 18th birthday.

To mark the four-year anniversary of the shooting, he climbed a crane in the nation's capital and hung a banner with an image of his son and a message to President Biden that read: "45000 People Killed From Gun Violence on Your Watch."

Now, Manuel is spreading his message using a different artistic medium — the stage.

He arrived in New York City this month to perform his play “Guac: The One Man Show" at Theater Row Studio Theater in Manhattan.

"What do you do when you lose a son? Take it from Manuel Oliver, the father of Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, you have to do what you do best," reads the synopsis of the play. "Fearless, funny, and pulling zero punches, GUAC is a one-man tour-de-force about a father turned activist, his undying love for his son, and the story of an immigrant family in search of the American Dream only instead to be confronted by a uniquely American Nightmare."

The play is presented as part of ENOUGH! Plays to End Gun Violence, a sponsored project of the non-profit group Fractured Atlas that highlights plays created by teenagers that confront gun violence amid the growing number of school shootings.

All of these protests are part of Change the Ref, an organization that Manuel and Patricia created after their son's death. The aim of Change the Ref is to use  "urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to advocate for the eradication of the gun violence epidemic and to expose elected officials who are bought and paid for by the NRA and gun manufacturers."

Manuel advocates using more than art however, and in March he was arrested when he and Patricia caused a disruption during a congressional hearing on guns.

Then, just this month, he filed a lawsuit against the government. Joaquin Oliver vs.USA was filed in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an independent legal body of the Organization of American States.

The lawsuit accuses the government of violating human rights law by failing to protect people’s right to live free from gunfire and causing Joaquin’s death.


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