July 02–WEST PALM BEACH — All Tom Bergan could do as a woman shouted at him during the March for Our Lives Florida road tour Sunday was hold out a clipboard and ask, “Are you registered to vote at your current address?”
The woman, carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and Trump 2020 poster, made it clear that she did not agree with the event’s cause. She told the dozens of people in Dreher Park attending the West Palm Beach leg of the Road to Change voting drive and student activist panel that they were taking away freedom and making the country worse.
But Bergan, the voter registration representative for the tour, said the goal was non-partisan activism at the most important level: voting. He said he’s registered about 150 people since he joined the tour a week and a half ago.
“It’s one thing to get one person registered, but it’s another to get one person registered who’s super stoked and gets their 10 friends to register,” he said.
Bergan and student activists, most from Palm Beach County high schools or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, were there to promote political activity in the wake of the mass shootings on Feb. 14 attack in Broward County.
On that day, 17 people were killed and 17 injured. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting.
Sunday’s panel allowed for one Parkland parent to speak to a group for the first time. Mitchell Dworet, whose son Nick was killed at the school, said the gun reform movement was crucial.
“You don’t want to be standing here like me as a father,” Mitchell Dworet said. “I wake up thinking about my son, Nick. I go to sleep thinking about my son, Nick. I think about him all the time.”
Nearly 20 student activists, including Delaney Tarr, Lauren Hogg and Adam Alhanti, answered questions about their favored approaches to policy change. Some said they were against security measures that arm teachers and implement metal detectors because it didn’t properly address the issues.
“We need preventative — not reactionary — action,” Tarr said.
The event largely turned out people in support of their message, though about 15 protesters in support of the Second Amendment attended as well.
Protesters were told to stay in a section of the park roped off by police to keep the peace. West Palm Beach officers said the area was made to ensure they kept their freedom of speech while avoiding issues at the permitted event.
West Palm Beach resident Nora Burd, carrying a sign that said “Criminals prefer unarmed victims, Dictators prefer unarmed citizens” written on a sanitary sheet, called the area “a jail.”
Burd said she wanted to protest the event because she thinks guns are needed to protect individuals. She said she believes schools should have armed guards to fight off potential shooters.
One protester came to the panel wearing an empty gun holster and a GoPro on his chest. He and other audience members questioned the policy choices that March for Our Lives supports while inciting arguments from supporters in the crowd.
“That was one of our best behaved protesters,” one student said after the event.
This article provided by NewsEdge.