FAMU students feel impact of gun violence, march to support Douglas students at Capitol

Florida A&M University students continued the school’s tradition of social activism Wednesday as a group of more than 50 marched to join the #Never Again rally at the Old Capitol.

Many students held signs as the march commenced: “Your Hobby Is Not Worth My Life”; “We Call BS; “One Child Is Worth More Than All Guns.” FAMU President Larry Robinson joined the students as they prepared to leave, escorted by campus and Tallahassee police.

“We’re the only country where people are afraid to go to school,” said Adebukola Ogidan, a fourth-year cardiopulmonary science student from Miami.  “A school is a place to learn about the world around you, but not to learn to be afraid of the world.”

Alisa Johnson had a personal interest in the demonstration. She's a 2015 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, the scene of  the Valentine’s Day massacre of 14 students and three staff members.

“It was very shocking to hear what happened,” said Johnson, a junior who is studying nursing. “A lot of people have (access) to guns and it’s unnecessary. I feel there needs to be more restrictions on purchasing guns.”

Reflecting on the slain students, she said, “They were all young. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their kids. They shouldn’t have to pick out a coffin.”

Her friend, Janay Green, 21, of Fort Lauderdale, said her brother attends Dillard High School in Broward. She worries about the impact gun violence can have on schools.

“It could have been him,” she said. “With all the gun violence down in South Florida, it’s necessary to that we march for change. It’s bigger than us. It’s something that needs to be handled accordingly.”

Organizing the march was SGA President Devin Harrison and Arriona Tindell, director of student lobbying for the SGA.

“I think it’s important because we are the future; future legislators, future presidents and senators,” Tindell said just before the march kicked.

She said it is important that FAMU students re-engage in social activism.

“It’s important they understand they have a voice in everything that happens in the world around them," Tindell said. "Gun control is an issue that touches many campuses. It definitely hits home for many of us.”


“Today, we march for a  purpose, we march for a reason,” Jeremiah Carter, a senior SGA senator, told students.

Niles Morrow, a senior environmental studies student, arrived at Lee Hall an hour of the advertised start.

Gun control, he said “is something that needs to be managed.”

“There needs to be serious caution now,” he said. “People are allowed to purchase guns, but you don’t know who is going to use them for the wrong reason.”

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.



Tallahassee man builds Intercontinental ballistic 'love missile' for Valentine's Day

It's Tallahassee's ICBM — Intercontinental Ballistic Love Missile, that is.

Standing at 14 feet tall on Eddie and Nancy Gines' Indianhead Drive front lawn, embellished with scarlet Valentine's Day hearts and Cupid decals, the "love missile" is far from calamitous.

Inside an info-box are copies of its associated love manifesto, complete with "love action ideas": smile often; befriend neighbors; plant a tree; be there for someone.

"Imagine a neighborhood, a community, a country, a world where love permeates all beings and things. Together we can make that a reality," the note reads.

Cupid 1 is local elder-care social worker Eddie Gines' labor of love. He and his family spent three weeks building it from wooden pallets and air conditioning duct.

The tongue-in-cheek prototype taunts North Korea's ICBM. It's even equipped with its own "big red button," poking fun at the social media brawl between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“Really, we have a powerful weapon already that would wipe out the weapons of mass destruction. And that's love," said Eddie Gines, 57. "We each have the capacity to be love and share love, and an endless supply within our hearts and souls to share that.”

No matter how much he'd like, Gines obviously can't conjure up a real missile that would spread infectious love instead of destruction.

But he could try his hand at a symbolic one.

“There could be this fantasy weapon that could get us back to Square One, I thought. That doesn’t exist obviously … so I got to think about it a little further," he said.

Gines hopes the display inspires others to spread compassion.

"Lately, with everything going on politically and the fracturing in the community ... the one thing that would really help all of that and maybe get us back on track is to focus in on love energy," he said.

His wife Nancy Gines added, “We’re so focused on the negative things … that we forget to just reach out to each other. Put down your phones, put down your apparatus, wave when someone passes down the street.

"Just calm down and start appreciating each other, because we only have each other.”

Reach Nada Hassanein at nhassanein@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @nhassanein_.


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