Father of Parkland Student Killed in Shooting Puts Bulletproof Vest on Wall Street 'Fearless Girl' Statue

The father of a student who was killed during the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, put a bulletproof vest on the "Fearless Girl" statue in New York City on Friday to protest mass shootings in the U.S.

Manuel Oliver, the father of Joaquin "Guac" Oliver, who was one of 17 people killed inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, placed the vest on the statue to create "#FearfulGirl." Oliver's organization, Change the Ref, is an organization that uses urban art to creatively confront and expose the mass shooting effects in the U.S., according to the organization's Twitter page.

The goal was to promote sensible gun laws before Tuesday's elections, according to a statement from the organization. The hashtag #FearfulGirl and the words "Let's bulletproof the future of our kids" can be seen on the bulletproof vest.

"She can't be fearless if she's afraid to go back to school," Oliver's group, Change the Ref, tweeted on Friday along with a photo of the statue in the bulletproof vest.

The nonprofit partnered with Fight Gunfire With Fire, a group that encourages students to use creativity to help stop gun violence in America, the statement said. Three advertising students from the University of Alabama, MK Holladay, Emeline Earman and Mingyu Jo originated the idea, which grew into #FearfulGirl, according to the statement.

Oliver told Newsweek that he was able to make such a powerful statement five days before the midterm elections in New York City. He said he started the nonprofit in order to express himself and to help end gun violence.

"We were able to go to an iconic place in New York to make a powerful statement," Oliver told Newsweek. "I am proud everything went well and we made our point. We need to keep our kids safe."

The creator of the nonprofit said the vest was only on the statue for an hour before police arrived at the scene. Oliver told Newsweek that he knew he had to eventually take the vest down, but got a lot of support for the project.

"I knew I wasn't allowed to have the vest on the statue," Oliver said. "I get it, but the reaction was very supportive even from police officers. They understood what I was doing."

Oliver, who along with the rest of his family, was born in Venezuela. He said that he and his family fled to America to escape gun violence. He told Newsweek he does not want any family to have to go through the pain he experienced when he lost his son.

"We ran away from gun violence, so let's not support gun violence here," Oliver said. "We came here for a new life. We were the unlucky ones, we lost our son."

The "Fearless Girl" sculpture, located in the Financial District of New York City, was created by Kristen Visbal and placed in front of the "Charging Bull" before International Women's Day in 2017. Officials announced in April that it and the "Charging Bull" statue would be moved to a different location.

In the wake of Parkland shooting, Oliver has made several art installations to protest gun violence. Earlier this week, Oliver and the Change for Ref organization unveiled a life-size, 3-D-printed sculpture of his son in Times Square last week to protest the threat of 3-D-printed guns, NowThis reported.

In August, a street artist hung kid-size bulletproof vests in back-to-school sections of three Target stores and one Macy's in Los Angeles. The artist, who goes by the name Plastic Jesus, told Newsweek that the time of year for the project was important in the wake of school shootings in the U.S.

Screen Shot 2018-11-02 at 12
On November 2, a bulletproof vest was placed on the "Fearless Girl" statue in New York City by the Change the Ref organization to promote sensible gun laws. MullenLowe U.S.

This story has been updated to include statements from Manuel Oliver.

Father of Parkland Student Killed in Shooting Puts Bulletproof Vest on Wall Street 'Fearless Girl' Statue | U.S.