Exactly one week after the March for Our Lives swallowed up city streets across the country, a somehow noisier procession choked Interstate 75’s southbound lanes Saturday morning as more than 700 motorcyclists revved their engines in honor of Meadow Pollack, who died in last month’s Parkland shooting.
With a police escort leading the way, they drove about 40 miles from a Harley Davidson dealership in West Palm Beach to Pollack’s home in Coral Springs, where Meadow’s father and older brother spoke out in favor of better securing schools across the country and putting aside political disagreements with student leaders who organized the March for Our Lives.
“The one common denominator we all share is the desire to live,” said Hunter Pollack, who read a speech meant for last week’s rally in Washington, D.C. March organizers said miscommunication was to blame for Pollack’s absence, but Pollack initially questioned if it was “their political agendas.”
“It took awhile but at least I can say it now,” Pollack told a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered in his sprawling backyard. “We as the students of this country must take our anger and take our pain and our desire to live this life to the fullest and we must channel it into a mission that is obtainable, one that can be achieved without heavy debate.”
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Andrew Pollack, Meadow’s father and — since the shooting — an increasingly popular advocate for safer schools, emphasized his desire to prevent any parent from experiencing his grief. He and the other families of victims lost in the shooting were instrumental in successfully lobbying for a school safety and gun control bill that passed the Florida Legislature earlier this month.
Also this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed Pollack to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which will investigate the failings that led up to the shooting.
“Evil went into that school that day and knocked at my door and took my daughter,” he said. “I’m not about to let that happen again. Evil knocked on my door, and I’m pissed! Just like everyone out there, we’re all pissed!”
Pollack put out an open invitation to the event, which he named the Ride for Meadow, and said his son invited student leaders from Stoneman Douglas to attend. The Pollacks also held a fundraiser to help pay for a new playground to be built in honor of the 18-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High student and the 16 others who died during the Valentine’s Day shooting.
“This isn’t anything political,” he said. “We aren’t here to politicize anything. It’s not about a party. It’s about — we love our kids.”
March for Our Lives organizers who attended stressed the importance of standing together as a community to support families of victims.
“No matter what, we’re all working for one cause,” said Adam Alhanti, a student activist, who was joined at the rally by students David Hogg and Jaclyn Corin.
“We’re all one community,” Corin added.