Congressman Compares Parkland Parents' Protest to January 6 Riot | Miami New Times


Parkland Victim's Father Smothered on Floor, Arrested at Gun Control Hearing in D.C. (VIDEO)

"You took my son away from me!" Patricia Oliver shouted when she and her husband, parents of Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, were kicked out of a congressional hearing on gun regulation.
Manuel Oliver, father of Parkland school shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, was arrested in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. on March 23, 2023.
Manuel Oliver, father of Parkland school shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, was arrested in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. on March 23, 2023. Screenshot via Will Steakin/Twitter
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Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, was arrested on Capitol Hill yesterday after he and his wife Patricia spoke out during a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing on gun regulation.

At the hearing, "ATF's Assault on the Second Amendment," Patricia shouted, "You took my son away from me!" when U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon ordered Capitol Police to remove the husband and wife.

"Please remove that woman," Fallon said. "You're removed. You're breaching protocol and disorder in the committee room."

Cellphone video shows the pair leaving the hearing without resistance as Manuel is shouting, "You are full of shit — all of you."

Outside the hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, bystanders chanted, "He is not violent! He is not violent!" while Capitol Police officers pinned Manuel to the ground and arrested him.

Another video captures one officer angrily shouting threats to send Patricia to jail if she does not back up as he pins her husband to the floor with his arm firmly around the man's neck. A second officer then forcefully shoves Patricia away.

As people continued to shout in the hallway, Fallon mockingly asked if the demonstrators were staging an insurrection.

"Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don't want another January 6. Do we?" Fallon said in the hearing room.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island quickly pushed back, saying: “If they’re trying to overthrow the government they ought to be held to the same standard. But I think they’re trying to express their views."

After a frustrated Fallon was interrupted again, he ordered a recess.

"Does the Capitol Police not do their jobs?" asked the Texas congressman, who was chairing the hearing. "What in the hell is going on?"

Held by a House Oversight Committee's subcommittee on regulatory affairs, the hearing was centered on Republican congress members' concerns that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is overstepping its authority in its gun regulation measures. In focus was ATF's new rule that will classify pistols with shoulder-brace attachments as short-barreled rifles subject to tighter regulation.

As the meeting was in recess, Patricia returned to the committee room to address the legislators. Fallon had officers escort her out once again despite others arguing she had the right to speak because she was not disrupting an active hearing.

"You are a coward," Patricia said before walking out.

Ryan Deitsch, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas who witnessed Manuel's arrest, said officers used "exaggerated force."

"While the Olivers did disrupt a federal proceeding, this response is beyond unjustified," Deitsch wrote on Twitter.

In statement provided to New Times, Capitol Police said Oliver was arrested after "he disrupted a hearing, refused to stop shouting, and then attempted to go back inside the hearing room." 

"D.C. Code §22-1307 forbids anyone to continue demonstrating in any Capitol Building after being told to stop," the statement reads. "This is a citation release arrest, which means the man was not put in jail."

The available footage does not show what transpired immediately before officers pinned Manuel to the floor.

Manuel will have to attend a court hearing for the citation at a later date, according to Capitol Police.

Since the 2018 shooting that killed three staff members and 14 students including Manuel's 17-year-old son "Guac," Manuel and Patricia have dedicated their lives to ending gun violence and promoting gun control reforms.

The Olivers started the non-profit advocacy group "Change the Ref," which uses art and "nonviolent creative confrontation," to raise awareness about mass shootings and gun violence.

In its 2021 "Lost Class" campaign, the advocacy group duped gun-rights leaders into speaking at a fake graduation ceremony with empty seats representing the thousands of students who never graduated in the U.S. because they were fatally wounded in acts of gun violence.

On the four-year anniversary of the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Manuel scaled a construction crane near the White House and unveiled a banner that read, "45K people died from gun violence on your watch." He also made headlines in July 2022 when he stood up and yelled out at Joe Biden during the president's speech on gun violence.
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