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Sun Times Feature Story


Sun Times Issue 02.14.2019

Not A Happy Anniversary


One Year Ago Today – 17 Were Killed At Douglas High In Parkland

By Larry Blustein
sfsuntimes@aol.com
As you read this article today, it will be with great sadness.

One year ago this very afternoon, lives were changed forever when 14 students, two coaches and an athletic director were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In the days, weeks and months after this senseless tragedy – there was an outpouring like never before. The loss of life at a place that we all believe is a secure and safe haven, brought everyone from politicians and Hollywood stars - to teens from all over the world - rallying to make everyone understand that this cannot happen.

It has been a time where finger pointing has been the response for everything that went down on that Wednesday – late in the school day.

Youngsters who turned into heroes at a place where none of these students or school officials ever saw this coming. How could they?

When the dust had settled and the battle cry of: “this will never happen again” was heard by everyone all over the world, reality continued to set in – knowing that gun control will never be controlled – and mental health will continue to be ignored.

What this has been about all along is not guns, but who are using those guns – or pipe bombs – or pressure cookers – or poisons that come in the mail.

As long as mental health is ignored, this scene and others like it, will continue to repeat itself. 100 percent guaranteed!

“Nobody really wants to look further than guns – because that was the weapon of choice in this tragedy,” explained Dr. Ellyn Reisfeld, who works with patients in need of treatment and not to be kicked back into the system. “But to be truthful, if someone has mental problems and wants to do damage, it isn’t only a gun. The problem, in my opinion, as with so many others, is the weapon of choice is your mind.”

“I tell my daughter, who is a school teacher, that if any students show those behavior patterns that are out of the normal, speak up,” Dr. Reisfeld added.

From losing jobs to countless ideas and proposed laws to keep our children safe and protected, are we any safer than we were on February 14, 2018?

If you follow what has transpired in the past 12 months, you probably would say that progress has been made, but progress is not enough for those who lost loved ones - and sit here 365 days later having to be their own advocacy groups and individuals.

“From the standpoint of being more prepared, I would say yes, we have made strides in the past year” Former police detective Angelo Rossi said. “But could it happen again? Without question. Maybe not the way that Nikolas Cruz did, but there are a million ways to hurt someone when they have no clue it’s coming. It happens all the time.”

If we have learned anything in this past year, taking the blame is not one of the strengths of law enforcement or school boards. When 17 people are killed – at a facility like a school – blame has to fall. There is no other way. Someone has to be accountable.

While the Broward Sheriff’s Office removed Scott Israel from the top spot, it was something that everyone called for. It happens. Someone has to take the fall, so in this case, we saw an officer fail to go in the building, and a few other perceived BSO mistakes - so understandable.

Even though he has filed a lawsuit to get his job back, even Sheriff Israel has to comprehend why someone in a high place needed to be blamed. His children went to Douglas and he even helped coach football at the school, so he more than anyone, while wanting to clear his name, must understand the hurt will never go away.

RUNCIE IS A CONVENIENT TARGET
While there are some who have to take accountability for Feb. 14, there are those who believe that moving ahead and using this tragedy to make schools safer and having more plans in place.

To this day, there are still groups and parents who are still going after Broward Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. He has faced harsh backlash - with people questioning his leadership after the attack.

Runcie has maintained that the “community needs stability in school district leadership, increased resources and support. That is what our school board members, our entire district and I are focused on providing.”

Runcie added: “The trajectory of progress is strong and we're moving in the right direction. The school board, my leadership team and I are 100 percent committed to keeping the momentum going."

REMEMBERING THE 17 TODAY
All of the schools in the district will observe a moment of silence at 10:17 a.m. to honor the lives of the 17 people who died. 

Runcie also warns that this is NOT a day for protest, and students - at all schools - should remain on campus.

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