Hundreds of students attending a community vigil for Highlands Ranch STEM school shooting victims and survivors in Colorado stormed out of their packed gymnasium 30 minutes into the event. In sadness, anger, and defiance, they gathered in the parking lot, chanting “mental health, mental health.”
Initially billed as an interfaith memorial for slain hero-student Kendrick Castillo, it quickly became obvious it was instead an opportunistic gun control rally. The campaign was planned and implemented by politicians, and those on the roster to speak, of course, were also leftist politicians and gun grabbing activists.
Kendrick Castillo, when confronted by a gunman on his campus, rushed towards the danger to allow his fellow students time to seek shelter. He was shot and killed just days before his graduation. Kendrick’s father, John Castillo, told NBC News that he had discussed what his son should do if ever faced with this exact situation. “You don’t have to be the hero,” he had told Kendrick.
His father recalls the reply: “You raised me this way. You raised me to be a good person. That’s what I’m doing.”
But instead of stories from classmates, friends, and family, Kendrick’s memorial was one politician after another speaking of gun violence and demanding stricter federal gun laws. The callous, seemingly ambulance-chasing tactics drove grieving students into the freezing rain to light up their cell phones, mourn together, and push back the media that had been selected and invited by organizers and politicians to cover another school shooting. Kids, turning the tables, began demanding to see the photos taken by the reporters, who followed them from the event. They did not want their grief to be used politically.
One student said they did not want their fallen classmate to become a “prop.” Another blatantly told a local news outlet: “This was not a vigil. This was purely a political stunt. This is not what we wanted for Kendrick.” Cold, angry, and tearful, students yelled in frustration “this is not for us,” “political stunt,” and “we are people, not a statement.”
A Gun Rally by Any Other Name
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and March for Our Lives were both sponsors and organizers of the event. A youth chapter of the Brady Campaign, Team ENOUGH, served as liaisons on the ground with student speakers, and invites were sent to Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Jason Crow (D-CO), who both spoke at length about the need for more federal gun control.
It is not a coincidence that this powerful lobbying organization, Brady Campaign, is lauding the Democratic presidential nominees who campaign on strident gun legislation. On the organization’s website, there wasn’t any mention of the Highland Ranch STEM school shooting – but there was this statement on May 7, the day the shooting took place:
“Sen. Booker, along with Sen. Harris, Sen. Klobuchar, Rep. Swalwell, Mayor Buttigieg, and every candidate who has made this a top priority should be applauded. We look forward to working with all candidates to form an agenda confronting gun violence just as we would other public health epidemics, with research and solutions that will reduce the staggering death and injury it causes. This is a top tier issue for voters across the country and across party lines, and we’re thrilled that it’s been treated as such.”
Liberty Nation reached out to the Brady Campaign for comment. That request went unanswered, but there should be absolutely no doubt where the Brady Campaign’s loyalties lie – and it’s not with the traumatized students in Highland Ranch STEM. It’s with the power they wield while the highest office in the land is up for grabs. With a slate of progressive presidential candidates calling for an outright overturning of the Second Amendment, politicizing one high school tragedy is just another step using any means to the victorious end.
But their expected outcome for an anti-NRA opportunity backfired spectacularly.
Good-Bye and Godspeed, Kendrick Castillo
Unlike the successful efforts by the media, gun control proponents, and leftist politicians after the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre that rocketed David Hogg to undeserved fame, Highland Park students refused to be pawns in anyone’s political game.
These STEM school students said no. No to politicians, intent on manipulating teenagers for their cause. No to becoming the latest sad faces plastered across electronic screens in the media’s war on the National Rifle Association. And no to being force-fed an ideology when it was time to grieve a friend.
And then Kendrick’s friends and family went back inside and took back their gymnasium. They took back their memorial for a fallen friend, taking turns with the microphone to properly remember a hero and sending the politicians out the door. It was then the healing process began.
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