After surviving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting last month, 17-year-old Emma Gonzalez has become an important figure in the #NeverAgain movement, a grassroots initiative calling for more regulated gun control.
She rose to prominence after appearing on CNN and delivering an iconic speech at the March for Our Lives rally this past weekend, where she stood silently for six minutes and 20 seconds, the amount of time it took for the shooter to kill 17 of her classmates on Feb. 14.
However, on March 23, a gif surfaced ostensibly showing Gonzalez ripping up what appeared to be the U.S. Constitution.
Gab, a social media platform that caters to an ultra-conservative audience, later admitted to creating the image, but claimed, hours after the animation leaked on Twitter, that the gif was “obviously a parody/satire.”
Gab created the media by doctoring a video shot by Teen Vogue of Emma Gonzalez ripping up a shooting target that she had shot with other girls from the magazine.
Phillip Picardi, the chief content officer for Teen Vogue, went to Twitter to express his discontent at the fabricated gif, tweeting, “The fact that we even have to clarify this is proof of how democracy continues to be fractured by people who manipulate and fabricate the truth.”
Since Gonzalez is a young activist who represents a movement in the public eye, she is prone to criticism from people with conservative ideologies. Many people criticized the Cuban flag that was sewn onto her denim jacket at the March of Our Lives.
In fact, a meme of her jacket made it to the page of Republican congressman Steve King.
The meme said, “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self-defense.”
When Brandon Wolf, a survivor from the Orlando nightclub shooting, went to defend her, King put out a statement, saying, “Pointing out the irony of someone wearing the flag of a communist country while simultaneously calling for gun control isn’t ‘picking’ on anyone. It’s calling attention to the truth, but we understand that lefties find that offensive.”
Instead of criticizing each other, citizens and lawmakers alike need to work on a compromise that helps both gun owners and victims of shootings.
Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg and other students from Parkland started the call to legislators for action, and it seems the movement by young people gained more momentum than other shootings in the past.
Let’s just hope the momentum continues until the midterm elections.