Manuel and Patricia Oliver, whose son, Joaquin, was among the 17 people killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, announced Monday they are embarking on a nationwide bus tour to cities affected by other mass shootings.
“We want to bring some hope,” said Patricia Oliver, who stood alongside her husband in front of the Parkland school, to tell reporters about their tour.
She said they will urge people in each city to reach out to their elected officials, from city councils to Congress, to press them to enact stricter gun laws to stem the rising tide of violence.
The Olivers converted a yellow school bus into an "activism vehicle" equipped with a digital billboard, speakers and phrases like "stop gun violence" printed on the side.
"This isn't just a bus — it's a revolution on wheels!” said Manuel Oliver in a statement announcing the tour. "Beyond anything, it carries the dreams, love, and resolve of a movement dedicated to curbing gun violence, inspired by our dear son Joaquin 'Guac' Oliver."
He said he raised the number of cities to be visited to 24, following a weekend shooting that left two dead and 30 others wounded during a block party in Baltimore, Maryland.
The bus tour is taking place at a time when the U.S. has witnessed the highest number on record of mass killings and deaths to this point in a single year, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University.
Since 2006, there have been nearly 560 mass killing incidents, according to the database, in which more than 2,900 people have died and at least 2,000 people have been injured.
At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Monday, Patricia Oliver placed a plaque with her son's face and the words 'The moment we forget or ignore injustice we become part of the problem. Never forget' in the garden outside of the school.
The tour plans to stop in cities that have had mass shootings, including Orlando, Columbine and Uvalde.
Each tour stop will include events, rallies, and gatherings. In each city, members of the local gun violence activism community will meet at the bus and raise their voices to curb the epidemic of gun violence in the United States, according to the Change The Ref website, which the Olivers founded and launched after the Parkland shooting.
The Olivers have been outspoken activists after the shooting, drawing media attention with large scale displays against gun violence.
Manuel Oliver has produced a one-man show, GUAC: My Son, My Hero, which tells the story of his son through his eyes. Guac was Joaquin's nickname.
Manuel Oliver got arrested last year for scaling a construction crane near the White House and hanging a banner that displayed a picture of his son and a message to President Biden that said, “45K people died from gun violence on your watch.”
Months later, he was removed from the White House lawn after interrupting Biden during a speech celebrating the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which provides funding for crisis intervention and mandates due process procedures for states with red flag laws.
“You have to do more,” Oliver could be heard shouting from the audience last July.
On Monday, Manuel Oliver said the federal legislation represented only "a baby step" in the fight to prevent gun violence. He said: "That's the problem. People think that we are moving forward and we are doing the right thing. We are not."