Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez stood silent in front of thousands gathered for the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C.
She continued to stand silently as a few crowd members shouted out support. She remained silent as tentative chants broke out. The moment lasted for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time Gonzalez said it took a shooter to kill 17 people and wound 15 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month.
“Everyone who has been touched by the cold grip of gun violence understands,” Gonzalez told the hushed crowed, describing the long hours spent waiting for authorities to identify their slain classmates, the horror of discovering many of them had breathed their last breaths before many students even knew a “code red” alert — designed to warn staffers and students of a potential threat — had been called.
“Six minutes and 20 seconds with an AR-15 and my friend Carmen (Schentrup) would never complain to me about piano practice,” she said, her voice strong but her throat momentarily catching. “Aaron Feis would never call Kyra ‘Miss Sunshine.’ Alex Schachter would never walk into school with his brother Ryan.”
Gonzalez went on, listing name after name of those killed at the school on Feb. 14.
And then she stopped, her breath heaving but remaining composed, looking straight ahead and silent.
The beeping of a digital alarm broke the silence.
“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, voice clear. “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”