She can’t vote, but maybe politicians should be listening — given her growing social media audience.
A sixteen-year-old survivor of the Parkland school shooting has taken to Twitter to demand more from politicians than just “thoughts and prayers.”
The Twitter user @Sarahchad_, who identifies herself as a student at Stoneman Douglas, tweeted directly to President Trump on Friday, inviting him to speak with her about gun control in person.
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Her invitation marked a distinct departure in tone from an earlier tweet she directed at President Trump, who avoided even mentioning the word “gun” in a national address a day after the shooting.
Sarah, who does provide her last name on her Twitter account, had tweeted a profanity at the president’s Twitter account after the mass shooting: “I don’t want your condolences you f***ing piece of s***, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead,” she wrote in response to a Trump tweet of sympathy. “Do something instead of sending prayers. Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again.
Her first message went viral, garnering over 325,000 likes, and more than 136,000 retweets. Sarah later deleted the tweet, apologizing for her profanity, but not for her sentiment. Her invitation to Trump had 203,000 likes and 53,000 retweets at last count.
She also had words for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican who has accepted $3.3 million dollars in donations from the National Rifle Association, and has been a strong defender of gun rights, as well as Tomi Lahren, the conservative pundit known for political commentary that critics have accused of racism.
She since has turned her social megaphone to all politicians with the power to affect long term change on gun violence. In under two days, her following has grown to over 21,000.
It’s uncertain if the president will take her up on her offer to discuss gun control. Trump has often blasted critics on his Twitter feed but there was no immediate response from his account. He arrived in South Florida late Friday and paid an unannounced visit to survivors and health care professionals at Broward Health North and also visited the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
It was unclear if he intended to visit Parkland or the school site during his time in South Florida. The Vice-Mayor of Broward County, Mark Bogen, told CNN that the president’s possible visit to Parkland would be unwelcome, calling it “absolutely absurd.”
Sarah’s messages reflect a widespread impulse shared by teenagers around the United States to leverage social media in order to make their voices heard by those in power. At 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, for example, thousands of students tweeted the hashtag #neveragain in an attempt to galvanize a nation-wide conversation about gun control.
These online outcries are already crystallizing into real-world organization. A new Twitter account called @Studentswalkout has posted about a nationwide student protest sometime next week. The Women’s March Twitter has also posted about a protest in late March. Students at Stoneman Douglas have organized a protest of their own for February 21st.